KABUL, Afghanistan — A group of gunmen stormed the office of a British charity in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad Wednesday morning, killing one person and wounding at least 11, officials said. The attack came as the country is still reeling from an even deadlier assault on an international hotel in Kabul Saturday night that left at least 22 people dead.
The Taliban insurgents, who claimed responsibility for the weekend strike against the Intercontinental hotel, disavowed any connection with the Jalalabad attack on the international Save the Children charity, in which a car bomb outside the entrance was followed by gun-wielding attackers. The office is located on a street near several other aid groups.
The latest attacks will likely further stoke the anxiety among foreigners and aid groups in Afghanistan. Some foreign charities already reduced their activities over the past year because of rising violence as Afghan forces, aided by the U.S. and NATO, battle a resurgent Taliban and affiliates of the Islamic State.
Images on social media and local TV news channels showed flames and smoke rising from a building in Jalalabad, while a group of panicked children ran for cover on the street outside.
Afghan forces exchanged fire with the attackers for several hours, and there was no sign of any letup by midday.
Save the Children, which has operated for decades in Afghanistan, issued a statement from London saying it was “devastated” at the news that its office in Jalalabad had come under attack. “Our primary concern is for the safety and security of our staff,” the group said, adding that it was waiting for further information.
In a statement emailed to journalists, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan condemned the assault, saying that “attacks directed at civilians or aid organizations are clear violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes.”
The attack came just four day after Taliban militants stormed the hilltop Intercontinental in Kabul. Among the 22 dead were 14 foreigners, including three Americans. It was one of the bloodiest attacks against foreigners since the Taliban’s removal from power in 2001, and Taliban officials said they were specifically targeting expatriates visiting the hotel.
The attack, which lasted nearly 16 hours, raised questions about how five assailants managed to enter the guarded premises with guns and explosives and roam the floors for hours before being killed by Afghan security forces. Afghan officials said the attack was conducted by the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, a Taliban faction.
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