Attacks on Save the Children office in Jalalabad

Attackers detonated explosives before entering the Save the Children office in the eastern Afghan city Jalalabad

(Photo: The Guardian)
(Photo: The Guardian)

Attackers detonated car explosives before entering the Save the Children office in the eastern Afghan city Jalalabad.

At least 11 people are reported injured so far.

Provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said the aid agency was targeted early on Wednesday morning.

“At around 9:10am a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb at the entrance of Save the Children’s compound in police district three of Jalalabad city,” he said. “A group of armed men then entered the compound.”

A suspected suicide car bomb blast began the assault, with the gunmen now said to be using machine guns and RPGs from higher floors in the building.

A spokesman for the Ningarhar province health department, Inamullah Miakhel, said hospitals were treating at least 12 people for injuries, none of them life- threatening.

Clashes were continuing at the scene on Wednesday morning and television footage showed smoke billowing from a vehicle and sporadic gunfire.

Sohrab Qaderi a provincial council member for Ningarhar, said Afghan special forces were battling two or three attackers armed with hand-grenades, machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Images showed residents fleeing from the area.

It was not known if any Save the Children staff remained in the building. A statement from the aid agency said: “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.

“Our primary concern is for the safety and security of our staff. We are awaiting further information from our team and cannot comment further at this time.”

Mohammad Amin, who was inside the compound when the attackers stormed inside, told Agence France-Presse 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 (rocket propelled grenade) to enter the compound. I jumped out of the window,” Amin said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but eastern Nangarhar province has been a stronghold for Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter the militant group had no involvement in the incident.

The UK ambassador to Afghanistan, Nick Kay, said the incident was an outrage. “Any attack on children & humanitarians is a crime against humanity,” he said on Twitter. “I hope for a quick and safe end to this horrific incident in Jalalabad.”

There are several other aid agencies in the area, along with government offices.

Save the Children carries out education, healthcare and protection work for Children in Afghanistan.

Charity groups continue to work under tough conditions in the country, facing regular attacks and kidnappings. The Red Cross announced in October it was drastically reducing its presence in Afghanistan after seven of its staff were killed in attacks in 2017.