PM Modi, Afghan President Ghani discuss security situation, covid

Aghanistan

PM Modi, Afghan President Ghani discuss security situation, covid

At least 10 of the dead were IS militants involved in the assault to free their comrades from the prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, said Ajmal Omar, a provincial council member.

The attack was the most violent incident since the Taliban and Afghan security forces held a three-day ceasefire over the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha which ended Sunday.

More than 50 prisoners escaped during the hours-long gun battle, he said.

On Saturday, the Afghan intelligence agency said a senior ISIS commander was killed by Afghan special forces near Jalalabad.

The phone call happened as reports said Afghan forces retook a prison in the country's east, a day after the Islamic State terrorist group attacked the facility in which at least 29 people were killed.

Casualties were likely to rise, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

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"Eight gunmen were killed as some areas, where the attackers had taken positions, were cleared", he said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

In Afghanistan, the terror group is at war with US, Afghan and Taliban forces - which are now trying to strike a peace deal.

The report credited the drop in casualties in part to the reduction of operations by worldwide forces - which now only acted when called upon and in support of the Afghan forces - and also to a decrease in the number of attacks by IS.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, eager for a diplomatic win ahead of elections, discussed the prisoner issue by videoconference Monday with Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Baradar, insurgent spokesman Suhail Shaheen said.

"Based on initial information, at least three people have been killed and five more wounded", Tareq Arian, spokesman for the ministry said.

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That deal was struck to allow the USA to end its 19-year involvement in Afghanistan, and calls on the Taliban to guarantee its territory will not be used by terrorist groups.

One resident, Atiqullah, who only uses one name, said that rumors were circulating that the Taliban were regrouping around Kunduz city.

Washington has been pushing for an early start to intra-Afghan negotiations that have repeatedly been delayed since the Taliban accord was reached.

Of the 1,793 prisoners, over 1,025 had tried to escape and been recaptured, while 430 had remained inside the prison. President Ashraf Ghani has refused to release the last 400, calling a grand council of elders for August 6 to decide the issue.

Nangarhar province has seen some deadly IS attacks this year including a May 12 suicide bomb that killed 32 mourners at a funeral for a police commander. The Taliban has been engaged in an armed rebellion since 2001 when it was removed from power in a US-led invasion.

Another UN report last month estimated there are around 2,200 Daesh members in Afghanistan, and said that while its leadership has been depleted, Daesh still counts among its leaders a Syrian national Abu Said Mohammad al Khorasani.

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File photo of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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