Taliban fighters have stormed a prison in the central Afghan city of Ghazni, killing police officers and releasing many prisoners, police officials said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred early on Monday.

"Around 2:30am six Taliban insurgents wearing military uniforms attacked Ghazni prison. First they detonated a car bomb in front of the gate, fired an RPG and then raided the prison," deputy provincial governor Mohammad Ali Ahmadi told AFP news agency.

Ahmadi said at least four police guards were killed and seven others were wounded, and that three Taliban fighters were also killed in the early morning battle.

The interior ministry said 355 of the prison's 436 inmates escaped. Most were charged with crimes against national security and other criminal offences.


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"This successful operation was carried out at 2:00am and continued for several hours. The jail was under Taliban control," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

"In this operation, 400 of our innocent countrymen were freed ... and were taken to mujahideen-controlled areas," it added.

In 2011 almost 500 Taliban fighters and commanders escaped from a prison in an audacious jailbreak in Kandahar province, in what the government described as a security "disaster".

The Taliban at the time said they sprang the inmates through a one-kilometre tunnel that took five months to dig.

The Taliban are stepping up their summer offensive despite a simmering leadership succession dispute after the confirmation of the death of longtime chief Mullah Omar.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies