Four assailants yesterday stormed the Save the Children office in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing at least one person and wounding 14 in the latest attack on a foreign charity in the country.
The attackers detonated a car bomb outside the office of the charity at about 9am before using rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) to blast their way inside the building.
Afghan security forces swarmed the area and brought the assault to an end after more than three hours, a provincial government spokesman said.
“The fighting has ended,” Attaullah Khogyani told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “The security forces are clearing the building now. Our initial information shows so far, one dead and 14 wounded have been brought to hospitals.”
He said initial information suggested the attackers had been wearing military uniforms.
Local media reported one Afghan soldier died in the fighting.
Television footage and video shot by onlookers showed thick smoke billowing from a burning car outside the complex and fire burning on an least one floor.
It was not known whether the dead civilian was employed by Save the Children.
“We are devastated at the news that our Save the Children office in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan, came under attack this morning as armed men entered the building, about 9am today local time,” a statement from the aid agency said. “Our primary concern is for the safety and security of our staff. We are awaiting further information from our team.”
Mohammad Amin, who was in the compound when the attackers, told AFP from his hospital bed that he heard “a big blast.”
“We ran for cover and I saw a gunman hitting the main gate with an RPG to enter the compound,” Amin said. “I jumped out of the window.”
Worried relatives had gathered at the scene during the gun battle between the militants and security forces.
“I am here because my son is stuck inside,” said one onlooker, Khan Jan. “I am worried for him. I haven’t been able to get in touch with him. He switched [off] his phone.”
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but eastern Nangarhar Province has been a stronghold for the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the militant group had no involvement in the incident.
LIBYA CAR BOMBING
AFP, BENGHAZI, Libya
Twin car bombs outside a mosque frequented by militant opponents in Libya’s second city Benghazi killed at least 34 people and wounded 87, hospital sources said yesterday.
The eastern city has been relatively calm since Lybian military officer Khalifa Haftar announced its “liberation” from militants in July last year after a three-year campaign, but sporadic violence has continued.
The bombers struck after evening prayers on Tuesday, blowing up two cars 30 minutes apart outside the mosque in the central neighborhood of al-Sleimani.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the mosque is known to be a base for Salafist groups which fought the militants alongside Haftar’s forces.
The city’s al-Jala Hospital received 25 dead and 51 wounded, its spokeswoman Fadia al-Barghathi said.
The Benghazi Medical Center received nine dead and 36 wounded, spokesman Khalil Gider said.
Ahmad al-Fituri, a security official for Haftar’s forces, was among those killed, military spokesman Miloud al-Zwei said.
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