MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan  - At least 20 prisoners, most of them Taliban, escaped from a jail in northern Afghanistan after the insurgents destroyed a part of the building with an improvised explosive device, the provincial governor said on Friday.

The jail break occurred on Thursday night in Sar-e-Pul province, and four prisoners were killed and 28 wounded in the gunbattle that erupted with prison guards soon after the blast, governor Abdul Jabar Haqbeen said.

"The enemies of the people of Afghanistan brought IEDs and exploded them. We are investigating how they managed to bring them here," he said.

The Taliban have repeatedly attempted to free their comrades from jails around the country and last April sprang 500 of them from the main prison in their southern stronghold of Kandahar.

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