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Afghanistan: Gunmen attack Jalalabad education building

Armed men enter government building in eastern city and open fire, killing at least 10 people, officials say.

At least 10 people have been killed and another 10 wounded in an attack at a government building of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, local officials said. 

Armed men entered an office of the education department in the provincial capital of Nangarhar at around 9:30am (04:30GMT) on Wednesday, setting off at least two big explosions and sparking an hours-long battle with security forces.  

"So far, 10 bodies have been recovered and taken to local hospitals," Attaullah Khogyani, spokesperson for the Nangarhar provincial governor, said in a statement. "Ten people have also been wounded."

One security guard was among the dead, Asif Shinwari, spokesperson for the Nangarhar education department told Tolo News, a Kabul-based news website.

Teachers were delivering exam results from their schools to the office when the gunmen attacked, Shinwari told AFP news agency. 

Eyewitnesses had earlier told Tolo News that up to 50 people had been trapped inside the compound before security forces overcame the attackers and brought the situation under control shortly after 1pm local time (08:00GMT). 

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the raid.

'Soft targets'

This is the third major attack in Jalalabad in less than two weeks and the second one in as many days.

On July 1, a suicide bombing killed at least 19 people, mostly members of the Sikh minority group, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Meanwhile, on Tuesday at least 12 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a security checkpoint in the eastern city. 

Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, has been the scene of numerous attacks recently as armed rebels step up activity in the restive region. Both ISIL and the Taliban are active in the area. 

Shafiq Hamdam, security expert and the former adviser to NATO forces said that ISIL is "most likely" behind Wednesday's attack. 

"These kinds of soft and high-profile attacks we have seen before in Afghanistan and throughout the world, which make big news and that's what ISIS wants," he said, speaking from the Aghan capital, Kabul. 

"They [ISIL] have been targeting mosques, madrassas, educational institutions as well as even hospitals and clinics, so this clearly shows that they want to make news in the media," Hamdam added. 

Afghan security forces have struggled to battle the Taliban and ISIL since the United States and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in the country in 2014 and shifted their focus to a support and counterterrorism role.

Last year, the US pledged to increase its support to struggling Afghan forces, announcing plans for thousands of additional advisers and increasing air raids in a bid to force the Taliban to enter peace negotiations.


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