Five Islamic State gunmen stormed the Save the Children office in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad after an explosion on Wednesday, killing five people and wounding dozens in a 10-hour siege, officials said. The assailants were killed.
Save the Children, a global charity that provides aid in 120 countries, said it had suspended all Afghanistan operations. It had been working in 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, reaching more than 700,000 children.
“We remain committed to resuming our operations and lifesaving work as soon as possible,” Save the Children said in a statement.
The Islamic State’s local affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s Amaq news agency. As the group’s foothold in eastern Afghanistan has come under pressure from sustained Afghan military operations and American air power, it has increasingly claimed urban attacks.
Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province, which includes Jalalabad, said the gunmen entered the charity’s office at 9 a.m. after a suicide bombing in front of the building.
“I saw a white car arrive, then armed men rushed out of the car,” said a witness, Mohammed Waseem, 28. “After that, a blast occurred, followed by gunfire. I had to run away to seek safety for myself.”
As is the case with many such urban attacks, there was initial confusion about the number of armed assailants. When the operation was declared over after 7 p.m., Mr. Khogyani said five had been involved and all were dead.
Mr. Khogyani said the victims included three Save the Children employees, one tailor across the street from the office and an Afghan commando; 24 others were wounded.
“We could have ended the operation in the morning and killed all the attackers, but there were more than 45 civilians and employees trapped inside,” said Mohammed Gulab Mangal, the province’s governor. “All those employees were rescued to safety.”