JALALABAD – At least six heavily-armed insurgents were killed after they stormed the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) headquarters in the capital of eastern Nangarhar province on Saturday, an assault that left 59 residents and security officials injured, officials said.
The well-armed and coordinated attack began at around 5am when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden truck into the spy agency's office in Jalalabad, allowing the six attackers to enter the compound, eyewitnesses said. The attackers battled with security forces inside the compound until 10am.
At least seven militants were killed during several hours of heavy fighting with Afghan security forces at the Jalalabad headquarters of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said Ahmad Zeya Abdulzai, a spokesman for the Nangarhar governor.
At least four NDS agents and two civilians were killed when a truck and a smaller car, both loaded with explosives, were driven into the compound and a gunfight broke out between Afghan forces and the insurgents, Abdulzai said. Local police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashraqiwal said that the suicide bombing was followed by a heavy gunfire, but gave no further details.
However, a doctor at the civil hospital said that six bodies and 59 injured people had been brought to the hospital. He said that at least 33 wounded persons were admitted and those slightly injured were discharged after treatment. The powerful bombing smashed windows and collapsed ceilings of nearby shops and buildings, injuring scores of residents.
During the gunbattle, a rocket hit a high school building, leaving 10 persons wounded, said Mohammad Asif Shinwari, the Education Department spokesman. He said that the injured included six teachers and four students. It could not be ascertained from which direction the rocket had been fired.
As usual, the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack. Zabihullah Mujahid, the group's spokesman, said that a group of militants stormed the National Directorate of Security compound, inflicting heavy causalities on security personnel.
Afghan forces have struggled to fight off large numbers of insurgent fighters in provinces to the east, north and south of Kabul. “This is part of an alarming trend across Afghanistan,” said Graeme Smith, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group in Kabul. “Taliban offensives are longer in duration, bigger in size and against more ambitious targets than we've seen previously."