Afghanistan's TOLOnews cited local officials as saying that gunmen have stormed the 'Save the Children' office in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province.
Officials confirmed that one suicide bomber had detonated explosives at the gate of the building to help gunmen enter.
#Afghanistan — #Nangarhar — #Gunmen have attacked Save the #Children office in PD3 of #Jalalabad city of #Nangarhar province. Clashes ongoing, a spokesman for provincial governor, Attaullah Khoghyani confirmed. @TOLOnews https://t.co/D1MEKVAel9— R.E.A.L Human Rights (@realhumanrights) 24 января 2018 г.
"There was a blast and the target was Save the Children," provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said.
The two floors of the four-story office have been cleared by noon (07:30 GMT), however people remained trapped inside, a security source told the broadcaster. At least two attackers have been killed, the source added, while the eyewitnesses said there were up to six attackers, according to the broadcaster.
#AFG A suicide car bomb exploded outside of Save the Children office in Jalalabad. Our police in the area. These are the initial information, a senior police officer in Jalalabad tells me.— Taj Mohammad Tamkeen (@TajMTamkeen) 24 января 2018 г.
According to health officials, at least 20 people have been injured in the attack.
TOLOnews cited eyewitnesses as saying that children attending a nearby school have been seen running from the area amid gunfire.
Terror attack ongoing in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan. Multiple explosions heard in the area. Some vehicles of the Save the Children NGO have caught fire. Gunfire after explosions. Forces have rushed to the location. 11 injured as per initial inputs. Photos by @Humayoonbabur pic.twitter.com/O7JqgUhToY— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) 24 января 2018 г.
Daesh terrorist group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier in the day, the Taliban militant group has reportedly refuted its involvement in the attack.
Following the terrorist attack, Save the Children has announced the temporary suspension of operations and closure of its offices in Afghanistan. "Save the Children can confirm that the security incident affecting our office in Jalalabad, Afghanistan is still ongoing," a spokesperson said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Save the Children's Asia regional spokesperson in a written statement to Sputnik said that the organization is shattered by the news and is extremely concerned about the safety of its employees there.
"We are devastated at the news that our Save the Children office in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan came under attack this morning as armed men entered the building, about 9am today local time. Our primary concern is for the safety and security of our staff. We are awaiting further information from our team, and cannot comment further at this time," the spokesperson read.
A representative of Save the Children's office in Afghanistan told Sputnik that the aid group could not provide comments as the clashes continue.
"Due to the ongoing nature of the incident, we cannot offer spokespeople for interview at this time, but we will update you as soon as this changes," the representative said.
Save the Children in Afghanistan:— Bridget Johnson (@BridgetCJ) 24 января 2018 г.
— fed 22K+ families last year
— runs Head Start/early literacy programs
— provides health education in schools and nourishment to kids
Taliban and ISIS are both filth.#Jalalabad https://t.co/WP8oVkwbO9
Save the Children is a London-based international organization that promotes children's rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries.
Afghanistan has long been suffering from unstable political, social and security situation due to the simmering militant insurgency, including that of Daesh and the Taliban group. In August, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy, in which he pledged to continue US support for the Afghan government and military. He also ordered to expant the authority of US troops to target terrorists in Afghanistan and approved sending an additional 4,000 troops to the country. However, since then, the security situation in the country hasn't improved, with the previous terror act taking place on January 22, when group of armed men attacked UN staff members in the Afghan capital of Kabul.