Kabul, May 2 (efe-epa).- At least three civilians were killed and four security personnel were injured on Saturday after a motorcycle laden with explosives was detonated outside the provincial prison of Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province, officials told EFE.
The explosion took place shortly after 10 am in Mehtarlam, capital of the Laghman province, provincial governor’s spokesperson Assadullah Dawlatzai said.
“Unfortunately, in this attack three civilians were killed and four members of the security forces were injured,” Dawlatzai told EFE.
The four injured officers had been evacuated to the provincial hospital and were in a stable condition, he added.
The blast took place at the first entrance of the prison and was timed with the arrival of the prison’s director, Noor Muhammad Niazi, who is among the four injured persons, Dawlatzai said.
Without directly attributing the attack to any insurgent group, the spokesperson said that they were investigating the incident, but such attacks were “mainly” carried out in the past by the Taliban.
The attack comes at a time when security in Afghan prisons has been tightened while the authorities have been working on plans to release around 22,000 general and 1,500 Taliban prisoners from various prisons of the country due to the heightened risks of a COVID-19 outbreak in the overcrowded facilities.
Afghanistan has so far reported 2,469 cases and 72 deaths due to the coronavirus, and officials said earlier this week that rapid testing had revealed that “dozens” of prisoners in one of the two major prisons of the country had been infected.
The Taliban had on Thursday released 52 government prisoners and said they were speeding up the release process as part of efforts to “save their lives” from the threat of coronavirus, a day after threatening “revenge” if their members lost their lives to the epidemic under imprisonment.
As part of a historic US-Taliban agreement signed in Qatar, 5,000 Taliban prisoners were expected to be swapped for 1,000 government prisoners before 10 March, a process which was planned to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.
But the two sides have so far failed to agree on a practical mechanism for the process and instead of an official exchange, began a unilateral process of releasing each other’s prisoners earlier this month.
The government has handed over 550 Taliban prisoners by Thursday, while a Taliban spokesperson said that the group was ready to release all their detainees if the government followed the Doha pact, having released 112 government prisoners within the past month. EFE-EPA