Islamic State attack: Save the Children suspends Afghan operations

Militants armed with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades continue to terrorise the British charity’s staff hours after they stormed their office building in Jalalabad on Wednesday

British charity Save the Children suspended its operations across Afghanistan on Wednesday as Islamic State (IS) militants continued to terrorise its staff ten hours after they stormed the office in Jalalabad killing a member of the security force and a civilian and injuring 14 others.

The government claimed the assault was over and the cleaning-up operation had started.

Save the Children confirmed in a statement that the security incident affecting its office in Jalalabad was still ongoing. In response to this, the charity decided to suspend its operations and close all its offices across the country.

Attaullah Khugyani, a spokesman of Nangarhar province, said the IS attack began at 9 am local time (0430 GMT) when a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the building  sparking fire that destroyed a number of cars parked outside the building.

Ten minutes later, three to four gunmen fired a rocket propelled grenade from a car at the gate before storming the building. The attackers kept indiscriminately firing at the staff as they moved to the upper floors of the office.

Afghan TV news channels showed people fleeing as a plume of thick black smoke rose from the compound (pictured: Photo-Afghan Voice Agancy) and cars were in flames. Around 100 people work at the office.

A member of the Provincial Council, Nasrullah Murad, told dpa that security forces were fighting the militants positioned on the upper floor of the building and armed with hand-grenades, machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

The charity office is surrounded by homes, two schools, a government department and offices of aid agencies run by international organisations.

Initially no one claimed responsibility for the attack. Later, IS said they were behind the assault. Nangarhar province lying on the border with Pakistan has become a stronghold for IS since 2015.

The attack came days after Taliban militants claimed attack on Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul which left dozens dead. Some Afghan officials disputed the Taliban claim and blamed the attack on Pakistan-based Haqqani network.

In a Twitter message earlier in the day, Taliban denied carrying out the Jalalabad attack.

Save the Children has been working in Afghan provinces for decades for the health and education of local children and their mothers.