Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Taliban claim attack at Afghan intelligence office

AP, KABUL

Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an attack in Jalalabad yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

A suicide bomber in a truck blew himself up at an intelligence headquarters in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing at least two people and setting off an intense firefight with security forces, officials said.

After the bombing outside the headquarters of the Afghan National Directorate of Security in Jalalabad, militants battled with security forces for an hour before authorities were able to put down the attack, Nangarhar governor spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai said.

He would not say how many attackers were involved, whether they were all killed or if some escaped. He said authorities were searching the grounds.

Abdulzai put the death toll at two and said they were both from the directorate, but Najibullah Kamawal, the top provincial health official, said six bodies had been brought to the hospital.

Conflicting death counts are common in the immediate aftermath of such bombings.

Kamawal said 45 people were wounded. The explosion shook the entire neighborhood, breaking nearby windows and startling residents.

“It was early morning and we were sleeping at home. A strong explosion happened followed by gunfire. When I came out of my room, I was covered with dust, and my kids and I got injured from broken windows,” Ahmad Shah said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to a reporter.

Jalalabad is one of Afghanistan’s biggest cities, sitting on a major trade route into neighboring Pakistan, but the city is also in one of the country’s most troubled regions.

Taliban militants are easily able to hide in the forbidding, mountainous terrain, and often cross back and forth into neighboring Pakistan.

Afghan security officials have repeatedly accused Pakistan of giving sanctuary to militants who attack Afghanistan, something Pakistan denies.

In May, militants attacked the provincial justice building in Jalalabad, killing at least five civilians before authorities were able to retake the building.

Militants in March attacked a police station in Jalalabad, sparking a four-hour battle with police that ended with 11 people dead.

This is the first year that Afghan security forces have operated largely on their own, without US or international forces. The NATO-led security force is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year, although a small number of US and international troops may stay behind to advise and assist the Afghan forces — contingent on Afghanistan signing a security arrangement with the US, something Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to do.

Both of the men vying to replace him in the country’s presidential election have said they would sign the agreement, but that has been stalled as the winner from the disputed vote has still not been named.

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