Gunmen Storm Save the Children Office in Afghanistan, Killing Three and Injuring 20; ISIS Claims Responsibility

Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a blast and gun fire in Jalalabad, Afghanistan January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Parwiz

Four gunmen have stormed an office of the Save the Children aid agency in the Afghan city of Jalalabad and battled security forces who surrounded the building, killing at least three people and injuring 20, officials have said.

The attack began with a suicide car bomb outside the office, followed by gunmen entering the compound and fighting Afghan special forces, a spokesman for the government in the eastern province said.

“There was a blast and the target was Save the Children,” spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said.

“Attackers entered the compound and the fight is going on.”

Some witnesses said there appeared to have been at least four attackers in police uniform — a commonly used tactic — but there was no immediate official confirmation.

Provincial health officials said 20 injured people had been taken to hospital.

It was not clear if two of the dead were attackers or civilians, Mr Khogyani said.

A member of the security forces was also killed.

At least one gunmen was still fighting, Mr Khogyani said.

“An explosion rocked the area and right after that children and people started running away,” Ghulam Nabi, who was nearby when the bomb exploded, said.

“I saw a vehicle catch fire and then a gunfight started.”

NGO staff ‘devastated’ by attack

Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack after the Taliban, which has sought to reimpose Islamic rule after their 2001 ouster, issued a statement denying involvement.

The group said in a statement the attack targeted British, Swedish and Afghan government institutions.

Plumes of black smoke rose from the area as surviving gunmen battled special forces well into the afternoon.

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