Gunmen Storm Education Department in Eastern Afghan City

Afghan security forces arrive at the site of gunfire and attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on July 11.Afghan security forces arrive at the site of gunfire and attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on July 11.

Militants attacked an office of the education department in Jalalabad on Wednesday killing 10 people, according to local officials, in the second deadly attack in as many days in the eastern Afghan city.

Two explosions were heard near the scene in what appeared to be a coordinate attack with gunmen taking a number of people hostage inside the building, according to a local Afghan TV station, France24 reported.

Five people were also wounded, according to the office of the governor of Nangarhar, the province of which Jalalabad is the capital. But the final casualty toll could be much higher.

It was the third major attack in less than two weeks in Nangarhar, following a blast that killed several civilians on July 1 and a second that killed at least 12 people on Tuesday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday’s attack but both previous assaults were claimed by the self-styled Islamic State terror group’s Afghanistan-Pakistan wing.

Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, has been the main stronghold for the IS group since the movement first appeared in Afghanistan almost four years ago.

  Ongoing War

The attacks have underscored the instability in many parts of Afghanistan following a brief three-day truce with the Taliban over the Eid al-Fitr holiday last month.

Backed by intensive US airstrikes, Afghan forces have claimed success in holding the Taliban back from major cities and US commanders say they have been hitting other militant groups hard. But attacks on civilian targets have continued, causing heavy casualties.

Hopes for a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban following the extraordinary Eid al-Fitr truce have dimmed with the militant group shrugging off offers from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration.

The Taliban have been gaining more ground in their annual spring offensive, ignoring Ghani’s calls for talks. Hoping to end the nearly 17-year war, the Afghan president has offered unprecedented incentives, including passports for insurgents and their families.

Ghani had also offered to work toward removing international sanctions against the group’s leaders and allowing the Taliban to open official headquarters in the capital Kabul.

But for that to happen, he stressed, a ceasefire must first be agreed on and the Taliban have to become a political group rather than an armed insurgency.

The Taliban however have maintained they would participate if their key demand of a withdrawal of US troops was fulfilled.

Amid reports that US President Donald Trump has grown frustrated over the stalemate in Afghanistan, US officials told Reuters that while the White House had not yet formally ordered a strategy review, they were preparing for a government-wide appraisal in the next few months.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints