Asia

Many escape from Afghan prison after Taliban attack

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At least 14 prisoners, including insurgents, are still at large after militants attacked a jail in the Afghan province of Sar-e Pol, officials say.

Three inmates were killed and 28 injured in gun battles between prison guards and Taliban fighters late on Thursday night.

About 30 prisoners fled but officials say they have recaptured 16.

There have been several high-profile Afghan jail-breaks in recent years, raising questions about security.

Last April more than than 470 inmates at a prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar escaped through a tunnel hundreds of metres long and dug from outside the jail.

The Taliban have said they carried out last night's attack in Sar-e Pol and claim 170 prisoners escaped.

A powerful blast reportedly blew a hole in a prison wall shortly after darkness fell. The militants then launched a co-ordinated attack from three directions, local media report.

Three inmates were killed and many wounded in gun battles between insurgents and security forces.

The governor of Sar-e Pol province told the BBC's Bilal Sarwary that those missing include criminals, Taliban fighters and commanders, but no high-profile militant prisoners.

Analysts say there have long been concerns about security at prisons around the country.

Our correspondent says drugs and the use of mobile phones among inmates are all problems for prisons in Sar-e Pol.

A member of the provincial council, Abdul Ghani, told the Associated Press news agency that he fears the jail-break will mean deteriorating security in the province.

Earlier this year Afghanistan and the US reached a deal to transfer US-run prisons in the country to Afghan control.