Thirty people died and at least 90 were wounded in Farah, Afghanistan early Wednesday morning after militants detonated a car bomb outside a court and then stormed the building.
Press TV reports the militants remain holed up inside the court in the town in southwestern Afghanistan, the capital of Farah province. Officials say the casualty count will likely rise.
Afghan General Qadam Shah Shahim declared on Tuesday that militants were planning attacks against military and civilian facilities this year.
A fierce gun battle followed the explosion, BBC reports, as militants disguised as soldiers sought unsuccessfully to free 15 prisoners accused of fighting for the Taliban. Six men bearing bomb vests and driving Afghan National Army vehicles slipped through checkpoints to get near the court. Two detonated their vests in one vehicle and four others jumped out to storm the court facility.
"Definitely the plan was to free the prisoners with this attack but, thank God, they did not succeed," provincial police chief Noor Kemtoz told the Associated Press. "All the prisoners are accounted for."
"I heard a huge bang and when I looked I saw several attackers armed with light and heavy weapons running towards the bank and the court," a nearby shop keeper told the BBC. "There is blood and broken glass. There is a heavy exchange of gunfire and my shop has become a centre of the fighting."