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    Islamic State attack on Afghan prison, killing 11, rages on

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Islamic State group attack on a prison in eastern Afghanistan holding hundreds of its members raged on Monday after killing at least 11 people in fighting overnight, a local official said.

    Another 42 people have been wounded in the gun battle that began Sunday night in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, said Zahir Adil, spokesman for the provincial health department. He expected the toll to rise.

    A suicide car bombing initially targeted the entrance gate of the prison in Jalalabad, Nangarhar’s provincial capital some 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of the capital, Kabul. Islamic State militants then opened fire on Afghan security forces guarding the facility.

    The Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as IS in Khorasan province, claimed responsibility for the attack. The affiliate is headquartered in Nangarhar province.

    The motive of the attack wasn’t immediately clear. However, some prisoners have escaped during the fighting, said another provincial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

    The prison houses about 1,500 inmates, of which several hundred are believed to belong to the Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan.

    The attack comes a day after the Afghan intelligence agency said a senior Islamic State group commander was killed by Afghan special forces near Jalalabad.

    While the Islamic State group has seen its so-called caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria eliminated after a yearslong campaign, the group has continued fighting in Afghanistan. The extremists also have battled the Taliban in the country, whom the U.S. overthrew following the 2001 American-led invasion after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The Taliban’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told The Associated Press that his group was not involved in the Jalalabad attack. The U.S. struck a peace deal with the Taliban in February. A second, crucial round of negotiations between the Taliban and the political leadership in Kabul has yet to start. Still, Washington and NATO already have begun withdrawing troops in line with the deal.

    “We have a cease-fire and are not involved in any of these attacks anywhere in the country,” he said.

    The Taliban declared a three-day cease-fire starting Friday for the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The cease-fire expired at 12 a.m. Monday though it wasn’t immediately clear if it would be extended as the U.S. pushes for an early start to intra-Afghan negotiations that have repeatedly been delayed since Washington signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February.

    The Taliban also had denied being involved in a suicide bombing in eastern Logar province late Thursday that killed at least nine people and wounded 40.

    Afghanistan has seen a recent spike in violence, with most attacks claimed by the local Islamic State group affiliate.

    source: The Associated Press

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