The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for an attack on Pakistan’s consulate in Afghanistan that killed seven Afghan servicemen, days after unidentified militants stormed the Indian consulate in another province.
Afghan officials say security forces killed two gunmen who had barricaded themselves in a building following a suicide bomb attack near the Pakistan consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad early Wednesday.
Deputy Interior Minister General Ayoub Salangi said the gunmen had been killed in an empty guest house where they had taken refuge after the suicide bomber blew himself up.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said seven Afghan servicemen were killed and seven others wounded in the four-hour gun and bomb siege.
A spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province said three civilians were also wounded.
The blast comes ten days after a 25-hour gun and bomb siege took place near the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
An interior ministry statement said on Wednesday a “group of terrorists targeted a police vehicle near the Pakistan consulate at 8.50 am”, while local officials claim the consulate itself was attacked, Tolo News said.
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 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 gun battle 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.
There have been several bomb blasts in Afghanistan over recent weeks at a time when efforts are under way to restart a peace process with the Taliban and ease diplomatic tension between Pakistan and India.
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.