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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Gunmen storm Afghan government building in Jalalabad

At least two blasts were heard before the attackers entered the compound

Afghan security personnel secure a road after gunmen stormed a government building in Jalalabad on July 31, 2018. AFP
Afghan security personnel secure a road after gunmen stormed a government building in Jalalabad on July 31, 2018. AFP

Gunmen stormed a government building after a series of explosions in Jalalabad on Tuesday, in an attack that has left at least eight people wounded.

At least two blasts were heard before the men entered the compound of the refugees and repatriations department, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan.

Several foreign organisations are also in the vicinity.

Representatives of foreign donors and agencies had met department staff before the attack, Mr Khogyani said. But it was not clear whether the meeting was still under way and there were no details on Tuesday on how many people remained in the compound.

At least eight people were wounded, Mr Khogyani said, but a "large number" of employees had been rescued.

"I saw a black Corolla car drop three armed men at the gate of the refugees and repatriations department," a witness told AFP.

One was a suicide bomber who detonated explosives at the gate and the two others entered the building, the witness said.

AFP reported gunfire as security forces swarmed into the area.

Photos posted on social media showed a plume of thick, black smoke above the compound.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack in a WhatsApp message sent to journalists.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which comes three days after militants raided a midwife training centre in Jalalabad.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday that left three people dead and several wounded.

There have been several attacks in Jalalabad in recent months, leaving dozens dead, as United States and Afghan forces continue offensives against militants.

Most of the attacks were claimed by ISIS, which has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan, mainly in the east and north.

It is not clear why the militants targeted the refugees and repatriations department, but government buildings are frequently hit.

On July 11, gunmen raided an education department compound in Jalalabad, sparking an hours-long battle with security forces.

At least 11 people were killed — all employees, including a director.

A suicide bomb attack claimed by ISIS on a crowd of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Jalalabad on July 1 killed 19 people and wounded 21.

ISIS first emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 and quickly established a stronghold in Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan.

Intensified aerial and ground operations against the militants have failed to dislodge them.