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Jalalabad: An Afghan teacher, in brown, helps schoolchildren run from the site of clashes near the Pakistani consulate here on Wednesday. A number of Afghan security personnel were killed after gunmen attacked the Pakistani consulate.—AP
Jalalabad: An Afghan teacher, in brown, helps schoolchildren run from the site of clashes near the Pakistani consulate here on Wednesday. A number of Afghan security personnel were killed after gunmen attacked the Pakistani consulate.—AP

JALALABAD: Seven Afghan troops were killed on Wednesday when militants launched an hours-long gun and bomb siege targeting the Pakistani consulate here, just days after four-country talks in Islamabad aimed at reviving peace negotiations with Taliban.

The militant Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack on the consulate, stoking fears over the spread of the ultra-radical movement in Afghanistan.

The attack is the latest in a spate of violence this month, raising concerns of a tough year ahead for Afghanistan as the Taliban may escalate their attacks, possibly in order to enter into peace negotiations from a position of strength.

The brazen assault sent terrified young students in an adjacent school fleeing the area which is also close to the Indian diplomatic mission.

“Seven of our security forces were killed and seven others wounded as a result of the terrorist attack,” interior ministry’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter four hours after the attack started.

Afghan troops killed all gunmen holed up in an empty government guesthouse near the consulate, where they had traded heavy gunfire with soldiers after a suicide bombing in the area, officials said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office condemned the attack and said it was in contact with its embassy in Kabul as well as Afghan officials.

Observers say the intensifying fighting highlights a push by the militants to gain greater concessions during any future direct talks.

Afghan officials said all three attackers and at least seven members of the security forces died during the attack by the IS, which hitherto had not struck high-profile Pakistani targets in Afghanistan.

“This is a major concern for us if they carry out more attacks like this,” an Afghan security official said. “We have enough problems to deal with already.”

Nangarhar, the province in which Jalalabad is located, has become the main Afghan stronghold of IS, which has battled the Taliban for leadership of the Islamist insurgency, attracting many former Taliban militants.

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

Witnesses in Jalalabad, the main trade gateway to the Khyber Pass and Pakistan, said heavy gunfire and a series of explosions could be heard during a battle that lasted several hours, and residents and children from a nearby school were evacuated.

The IS said on its official Telegram messaging service channel that three members wearing suicide-bomb vests carried out the attack, which it said had killed dozens of people, including “several Pakistani intelligence officers”. It said two suicide attackers had been killed while a third escaped.

Pakistan said all members of the consulate staff were safe, with one official slightly injured by broken glass.

“This is first attack claimed by IS against the state of Pakistan,” Mohammad Amir Rana, a Pakistani security analyst, told AFP. “This is a highly symbolic attack as the Pakistani consulate is a high-profile installation in Jalalabad.”

The attack carried echoes of one last week on the Indian consulate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, when a group of assailants barricaded themselves in a house and resisted security forces for about 24 hours after a suicide bombing.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2016

Comments (13) Closed

R K HASTIR (India ) Jan 14, 2016 08:35am

Cooperation among south Asians is Need of Hour as we all are facing,,MINDLESS,,RELIGEON LESS , BLIND THUNDER of Group of Groups.

Zak Jan 14, 2016 08:37am

We should talk to IS and come to a compromise, involve Afghanistan ,China and US in quadrilateral talks with IS.

Zak Jan 14, 2016 08:47am

War will not solve terrorism, only talks will, we have to talk to IS and understand their point of view and come to a settlement.

SHAH Jan 14, 2016 09:28am

Pakistan will make Afghanistan a peaceful country and we will teach a lesson to radical elements once again.

Zahid Khan Jan 14, 2016 10:04am

@Zak What a joke only elimination of evil will solve the problem and it is going to take its time. Its a war between evil and the good which has to be fought and there is not any other way unfortunately!

pk Jan 14, 2016 10:04am

Why we trust the militants ?? Are they Trustworthy ?? They claimed we believe !

sbk Jan 14, 2016 10:29am

@Zak , Will you talk to ISIS, Mr. Zak?

Dave Jan 14, 2016 11:21am

Innocent children are attacked time and again. It looks like the kings of terrorism are using them as pawns in a game of chess.

Komal S Jan 14, 2016 11:59am

@Zak Guess what their point of view is?

Ali from india Jan 14, 2016 12:12pm

@Zahid Khan very well said Bro Jan 14, 2016 02:19pm

What a pathetic scene..The school children supposed to nurture and learn the beauty of humanity...Howevr, they are witnessing the wild side of the cruel world...Feeling very bad about these kids...

KN Jan 14, 2016 06:14pm

@SHAH It will be great help to Afghanistan if Pakistan keeps away militarily and provides only humanitarian or economic support if it can.

M.Rafique Jamali Jan 14, 2016 09:58pm

We should make our borders stronger and strong enough .....