The attack, which killed at least two and wounded 12 people, comes days after an attack on Kabul's Hotel Intercontinental. Aid agency temporarily suspends operations.

The attack in Jalalabad came just days after Taliban militants attacked the Hotel Intercontinental in the capital, Kabul, killing at least 20 people, including 13 foreigners. January 24, 2018.
The attack in Jalalabad came just days after Taliban militants attacked the Hotel Intercontinental in the capital, Kabul, killing at least 20 people, including 13 foreigners. January 24, 2018. (Reuters)

Gunmen blasted their way into Save the Children's office in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar on Wednesday, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that has killed two and wounded over 12 people.

After blowing up a car outside the British charity's compound in Jalalabad city, the attackers used a rocket-propelled grenade to storm the complex in the latest attack on a foreign aid group in the war-torn country.

Save the Children has suspended operations in Afghanistan after the deadly raid claimed by Daesh on its office.

"In response to this, all of our programmes across Afghanistan have been temporarily suspended and our offices are closed," Save the Children spokesperson said in a statement.

The militant group's news agency Amaq said the operation involved a car bomb and three other attacks that targeted British, Swedish, and Afghani government institutions in Jalalabad, without providing further details.

Nangarhar governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said the raid started at 0440 GMT (9:10 am local time) – shortly after staff would have arrived at the office.

"A group of armed men then entered the compound. So far 11 wounded people have been brought to hospitals," Khogyani said.

Mohammad Amin, who was inside the compound when the attackers launched the raid, said from his hospital bed that he heard "a big blast."

"We ran for cover and I saw a gunman hitting the main gate with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) to enter the compound. I jumped out of the window." Amin said.

Afghan TV news channels showed a thick plume of black smoke rising above the compound and what appeared to be at least one vehicle on fire outside the office.

Charities targeted

Wednesday's assault comes days after Taliban gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in the Afghan capital, killing at least 22 people, mostly foreigners.

Insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide vests attacked the landmark Intercontinental Hotel, going from room to room searching for foreigners during the more than 12-hour ordeal.

"We are devastated at the news that our Save the Children office in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan came under attack this morning," a Save the Children spokesperson said in a statement, withholding further details while the attack was ongoing.

The UN's mission in Afghanistan tweeted that it was looking into reports of the attack.

"Attacks directed at civilians or aid organisations are clear violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes," it said.

The assault on Save the Children, which has operated in Afghanistan since 1976, is the latest violence to strike a foreign aid group in the country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced in October it would "drastically" reduce its presence in the country after seven employees were killed in attacks last year.

The decision by the charity, which has been working in Afghanistan for over three decades, underlined the growing dangers for aid workers, who have increasingly become casualties of a surge in militant violence in recent years.

Nangarhar, a restive province bordering Pakistan, is a stronghold for Daesh and also has a significant Taliban presence.

US and Afghan forces have been carrying out ground and air operations against Daesh fighters in Nangarhar.

While Afghan security forces are conducting most of the fighting against Daesh and Taliban militants, US troops operate alongside them in a training capacity and are frequently on the front lines.

The last major attack in Jalalabad was on December 31 when an explosion at a funeral killed 18 mourners and wounded another 13. There was no claim of responsibility.

Source: AFP