Jalalabad (Afghanistan) : 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.
Another witness told AFP: “It might be a complex attack. I am hearing gunfire from inside Save the Children compound.” Today’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.
But Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a tweet on Wednesday that the militant group was not responsible for the Jalalabad attack.
“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 the Islamic State group and also has a significant Taliban presence.
US and Afghan forces have been carrying out ground and air operations against IS fighters in Nangarhar.