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Militants launch attack on Afghan government building in Jalalabad, say officials; at least 10 killed, 10 wounded

Jalalabad: A militant attack on a government building in eastern Afghanistan today left at least 10 people dead and another 10 wounded, an official said, after security forces overcame the attackers.

Nangarhar provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani confirmed the casualty toll from the attack on the education department office in Jalalabad.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

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.

A security guard employed by the department was among the dead, Khogyani said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the raid. Nangarhar's provincial capital has seen an uptick in violence in recent weeks, with the Islamic State group claiming most of the attacks.

A suicide attack in the same city on Tuesday 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. The Islamic State group claimed that attack via its Amaq propaganda agency — the latest carried out by the extremists in restive Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan.

IS has claimed a series of high-casualty suicide bomb attacks in the province in recent weeks, as US and Afghan forces continue offensive operations against the group. While the Taliban is Afghanistan's largest militant group, IS 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.

It also coincides with the start of a university entrance exam for more than 16,000 students in the city, but it was not clear if the two events were linked. The attack comes exactly a month after militants raided the education department in Jalalabad. In that incident a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the department, triggering a fierce battle between gunmen and security forces. At least 10 people were wounded after terrified employees jumped out of the windows.

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 IS, which was not involved in the truce, has continued to carry out deadly attacks.

Updated Date: Jul 11, 2018 15:12 PM

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