AFGHANISTAN: Gunmen storm Jalalabad medical training centre
|Heavy gunfire was heard from within the facility for trainee midwives early on Saturday [Parwiz/Reuters]|
AL JAZEERA – Officials say gun battle between attackers and security forces ends inside midwife training facility in Jalalabad.
Afghan security forces have battled for hours a group of gunmen who stormed a medical training centre in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in an attack that left at least four civilians wounded, according to officials.
The attackers raided the school for trainee midwives on Saturday morning, before Afghan special forces arrived to confront them. Heavy gunfire and explosions were heard from within the building
After a battle lasting several hours, which sent clouds of black smoke spiralling into the sky, all the attackers were killed by security forces, according to a statement by Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial government spokesman.
Dozens of civilians were rescued from inside the facility and four wounded people were taken to hospital. Ambulances and security services were deployed to the scene.
Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, reporting from Afghanistan‘s capital Kabul, said intelligence officials had obtained information on a possible attack on the building and were able to move 69 people in the compound into safe rooms.
A witness told AFP news agency he heard several blasts and then saw three gunmen enter the street where the midwife centre is located.
Security forces appeared to be dismantling improvised explosive devices apparently planted in the street by the attackers.
No immediate claim of responsibility was made. The Taliban denied involvement in a WhatsApp message sent to reporters.
Provincial health department spokesman Inamullah Miakhil said 48 women from remote districts of the province were enrolled in the two-year midwifery course.
“We don’t know why the midwife centre came under attack,” Miakhil said.
Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar, has been rocked by a number of attacks within recent weeks.
At least 10 people were killed and another 10 wounded during an assault on a government building in the city on July 11, a day after 12 people were killed and four others hurt by a suicide bombing at a security checkpoint.
A separate suicide attack carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), killed 19 people on July 1.
Both ISIL and the Taliban are active in Jalalabad with Afghan security forces struggling to battle both groups after the US and NATO officially concluded their combat mission in the country four years ago.
The Taliban is Afghanistan’s largest insurgent group and ISIL has a relatively small but potent presence, mainly in the east and north of the country. ISIL first emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 and quickly established a stronghold in Nangarhar province.
Last year, US President Donald Trump pledged the United States would continue fighting in Afghanistan in a bid to avoid the “predictable and unacceptable” results of a premature withdrawal from the country.
“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, would instantly fill,” Trump said.
Following Trump’s speech, US Defence Secretary James Mattis announced the deployment of 3,000 additional troops to Afghanistan – taking the overall tally to about 14,000 – where the US has been at war since 2001.
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: July 28, 2018 at 11:31AM