At Least 10 Dead as Militants Storm Afghan Govt. Department

At Least 10 Dead as Militants Storm Afghan Govt. Department

Wednesday, 11 July, 2018 - 09:00
An Afghan policeman inspects damaged vehicles after a suicide attack in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan July 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
At least ten people were killed on Wednesday when gunmen stormed an education department compound in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

Others have been wounded in the second attack in Jalalabad city in as many days, and a number of employees were trapped inside the building, Nangarhar provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

A security guard employed by the education department branch was among the dead, Khogyani said.

Jalalabad health director Najibullah Kamawal confirmed five wounded people had been brought to hospital so far.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the raid.

Security forces were trying to clear the militants from the compound and rescue the workers. It was not clear how many gunmen or employees were inside.

The sound of gunfire followed by a "big explosion" that shattered windows alerted Qari Samiullah that an attack was underway near his shop.

"I left my shop and ran when I heard a second explosion," Samiullah told AFP. "Smoke came out of the building and all the people started to run away."

Jalalabad's education department was also attacked by gunmen exactly a month ago. At least 10 people were wounded.

Nangarhar's provincial capital has seen an uptick in violence in recent weeks, with the ISIS group claiming most of the attacks.

On Tuesday, a suicide attack in the city killed at least 12 people and ignited a nearby petrol station, with witnesses describing screaming victims "swallowed" by flames.

The bomber was targeting Afghan security forces when he blew himself up. Ten civilians were among the dead. ISIS claimed that attack via its Amaq propaganda agency.

While the Taliban is Afghanistan's largest militant group, ISIS has a relatively small but potent presence, mainly in the north and east of the country.

Wednesday's attack comes a day after President Ashraf Ghani flew to Brussels to attend a NATO summit where he will be hoping to get a greater commitment from members to the nearly 17-year conflict.

Currently, there are about 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, providing the main component of the NATO mission there to support and train local forces.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to pledge to send 440 extra troops to Afghanistan during the summit.

The extra troops will be from the Welsh Guards regiment, with around half deploying in August and a second contingent to follow in February.

"In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan we have underlined once again that when NATO calls the UK is among the first to answer," May is expected to say at the summit.

The troops will help "bring the stability and security that the Afghan people deserve," she is expected to say.

The extra deployment will take the total number of British troops in the country to around 1,100. The last UK combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014 after being involved in the conflict since 2001.

NATO asked Britain to deploy more forces last year and US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on NATO allies to increase their defense spending.

A recent ceasefire between Afghan security forces and the Taliban during the Islamic holiday Eid had raised hopes that an end to hostilities in the war-weary country was possible.

Since then, however, the Taliban has returned to the battlefield and ISIS, which was not involved in the truce, has continued to carry out deadly attacks.

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