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Insurgents attack prison in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL – Insurgents attacked a prison in eastern Afghanistan before dawn Friday, sparking a gunbattle with guards during which one prisoner was killed and another escaped, police said.

Meanwhile, NATO forces said one of its service members was killed Thursday by a bomb strike in southern Afghanistan. The international force did not provide further details or the nationality of the victim, under its policy of waiting for national authorities to announce deaths.

Prisons, along with police stations and other government buildings, have been repeated sites of Taliban attacks as the extremist religious group has stepped up its battle against the Afghan authorities in the past three years.

The militants did not manage to break into the prison in eastern Laghman province on Friday, but a group of more than a dozen prisoners charged an interior gate, breaking through to the outer wall, said provincial Police Chief Gen. Abdul Karim.

One prisoner managed to get away by jumping over the wall, while police shot another one dead as he attempted to flee, Karim said. Both of the men had been imprisoned for criminal offenses and were not known to have Taliban connections, he said.

Police captured one of the attackers and wounded some others, he said. No police or guards were injured.

Last summer, Taliban fighters attacked the prison in southern Kandahar province in a multi-pronged assault that included a suicide truck bomb, a suicide bomber on foot and gunmen freeing the prisoners. About 870 prisoners escaped, including roughly 400 jailed insurgents. The government has since worked to improve security at prisons across the country.

This week, President Barack Obama put his stamp on the bloody eight-year conflict by replacing the general in charge of the effort and installing a new ambassador. The Obama administration hopes the leadership shake-up — along with an additional 21,000 troops deploying this summer — will help reverse the militants’ momentum.

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