x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Suicide bomb and gun attack near Jalalabad Airport kills 16

Security forces have closed off the area in the Afghan city

Security personnel inspect the side of a suicide attack near the office of the Election Commission in Jalalabad city, capital of eastern Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. AP Photo. File.
Security personnel inspect the side of a suicide attack near the office of the Election Commission in Jalalabad city, capital of eastern Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. AP Photo. File.

At least 16 people were killed when suicide bombs were detonated and gunmen stormed a construction company in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, Afghan officials said.

Two suicide bombers set off blasts near the office of a construction company near the city's airport before militants stormed the company.

The 16 people were employees of an Afghan company working at the construction site, an official told Reuters. Four militants were also killed.

Some five people were wounded when the bombers, who were on foot, detonated their explosives at the gate of the company on Wednesday morning, Nangarhar province's police chief, Gen. Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai, told Associated Press.

Several more gunmen stormed inside the company leading to a gun battle.

"Two attackers detonated their vests, and two more were gunned down by security forces," provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told Agence France-Presse, adding that a clearance operation was ongoing.

US forces have arrived at the scene, the Nangarhar police chief said, and the area has been cordoned off.

The was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and ISIS operate in Afghanistan, including in Nangarhar province.

The combination of bombs and an armed assault is a common tactic used by the Taliban to maximise casualties.

The Taliban are currently in peace talks with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, attempting to reach an end to the nearly 18-year war.

Reports from the talk indicate progress is being made, despite a two-day hiatus over the weekend.

"These discussions are ongoing and what we're focusing on are the four interconnected issues that are going to compose any future agreement," US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said on Tuesday.

Mr Palladino listed the four issues as "terrorism," "troop withdrawal," "intra-Afghan dialogue" and "ceasefire".

Intra-Afghan dialogue appears to be the hardest to achieve. The Taliban refuses to meet with the internationally recognised Afghan government, who they see as a prop of the United States and the true enemy.

A meeting took place in Moscow last month between some members of the Taliban and some Afghan politicians, but not officials from the incumbent Afghan administration, who face a presidential election later this year.

Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan's most eastern area, which has a porous border with Pakistan.

Updated: March 6, 2019 11:45 AM

SHARE

SHARE