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Taliban Detainee Goes on Killing Spree in Afghan Prison

Officials in Afghanistan confirmed Monday a Taliban prisoner has killed at least eight policemen, including three senior officers, after covertly seizing an assault rifle from a guard at the detention facility in southern Zabul province.

The incident happened while security guards were offering evening prayers late Sunday at the Shar-e-Safa district jail, a police officer told VOA. Ghulam Jilani said the assailant sprayed the unarmed group of personnel with bullets. The officer promised to provide more details later in the day.

A security official in Shar-e-Safa, disclosed to VOA on the condition of anonymity that Afghan forces swiftly engaged the armed prisoner and the firefight with him continued into Monday morning.

The official suspected the Taliban detainee had managed to seize weapons from other slain officers, preventing prison guards from ending the siege, though the assailant’s fate was still not known.

The latest security forces' casualties came a day after the Afghan ministers of defense and interior acknowledged that Taliban battlefield attacks in recent weeks have inflicted some of the worst casualties on Afghan National Army (ANA) and police forces.

While briefing the upper house of parliament or Senate on Sunday, Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak disclosed that "daily, 30 ANA and police personnel get killed.”

Afghan Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami told the Senate session that in the last one month alone, the ANA has suffered 1,231 casualties, including 513 fatalities.

Around 14,000 Afghan security forces were killed between April 2016 and July 2018, according to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Insurgents have since intensified battlefield attacks around Afghanistan, inflicting more losses and capturing new territory.

Meanwhile, security forces raided a Taliban-run detention center in the central-eastern Maidan Wardak province late Sunday and rescued eight prisoners, mostly personnel of the Afghan Special Forces.

General Wais Samimi, the provincial police commander, told VOA the rescue operation also killed 40 insurgents, including their shadow district chief.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujuahid, claimed Afghan and U.S. forces jointly conducted the raid and it targeted a civilian compound. He went on to assert that the security action in the Jaghato district killed 14 civilians, including women and children. The Taliban’s claims are often inflated.

Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency quoted villagers as telling it that foreign forces were part of the raid and those killed in it were all civilians.

It was not possible to independently verify the claims.