7 dead, 11 injured as gunbattle near Pak consulate in Afghanistan ends

Published January 13, 2016
Afghan security personnel inspect a building used by insurgents to launch an attack on the Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad. -AFP
Afghan security personnel inspect a building used by insurgents to launch an attack on the Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad. -AFP

KABUL: A four-hour long gunbattle between Afghan security forces and gunmen holed up near the Pakistani consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad has come to an end after all attackers were killed, Afghanistan's Tolo News reported.

Afghan officials said all three attackers and seven security forces were killed in the brazen assault in eastern Nangarhar province

The self styled Islamic State group claimed the attack later today in a statement conveyed to Reuters,

Tolo News reported that a consulate staff member, three children and seven police officials are also among those injured, but Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah contended, "All Pakistanis working at the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad are safe. No one has been injured."

A member of the Afghan security force inspects a damaged building after a blast near the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. -Reuters
A member of the Afghan security force inspects a damaged building after a blast near the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. -Reuters

An interior ministry statement said a "group of terrorists targeted a police vehicle near the Pakistan consulate at 8:50am", while local officials claim the consulate itself was attacked, Tolo News said.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, earlier said a suicide bomber had tried to join a queue of people seeking visas to Pakistan and blew himself up after being prevented from entering the building.

Witnesses said they heard heavy gunfire and a series of explosions. Three attackers had barricaded themselves inside a house near the consulate and engaged in a gunbattle with security forces, officials said.

Residents and children from a nearby school were evacuated.

Afghan officials sealed off the area around the consulate ─ which is located close to the Indian and Iranian diplomatic missions ─ and said a probe into the attack had been initiated.

Pakistan condemns the attack

Pakistan strongly condemned and requested government of Afghanistan to thoroughly investigate this incident and bring the culprits to book.

According to a press release issued from foreign office, Paksitan also requested Afghan government to share details of the investigation with Pakistani officials.

The foreign office confirmed that officials of the Consulate General are safe. Only one official was slightly injured by a broken glass.

The Government of Afghanistan has also been requested to ensure safety and security of Pakistan Missions in Afghanistan and the country's officials working there.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the blast in Jalalabad which is the main trade gateway to the Khyber Pass and Pakistan. Nangarhar province is home to a number of insurgent groups and criminal gangs.

Insurgent attacks are not uncommon in Jalalabad. The militant Islamic State group also has a presence in province.

Pakistan says many Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, who are separate from but allied with the Afghan Taliban, and are fighting against the Pakistani state, have sought refuge in Afghanistan from Pakistani Army offensives against them in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions.

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers arrive after a blast near the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. -Reuters
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers arrive after a blast near the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. -Reuters

There have been several bomb blasts in Afghanistan over recent weeks at a time when efforts are underway to restart a peace process with the Taliban and ease diplomatic tension between Pakistan and India.

Read: US sees Taliban as reconciliation partners: Pentagon

Delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States met this week to try to resurrect efforts to end nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan, even as fighting with the Taliban intensifies.

The blast came ten days after 25-hour gun and bomb siege took place near the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Ghani telephones Nawaz

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and expressed his grief and concern over the attack.

Ghani also assured Nawaz of more security for Pakistani diplomats in Afghanistan.

The prime minister thanked the Afghan president for his concern and also conveyed his condolences on the deaths of Afghan security personnel.

The PM stated that terrorism is a common enemy of both countries and the neighbouring states will have to fight this menace together till its complete elimination.

─ Mateen Haider contributed to the reporting of this story.

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