JALALABAD (TIP): Suicide bombers stormed the national television station in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad today, triggering gunfights and explosions as journalists remained trapped inside the building, officials and eyewitnesses said.
At least two people were killed and 14 others wounded in the ongoing assault, which underscores the growing dangers faced by media workers in Afghanistan.
No insurgent group has so far claimed responsibility for the raid in Nangarhar province, a hotbed of Islamic State jihadists, where the US military dropped its largest non- nuclear bomb last month in an unprecedented attack.
“Four attackers entered the RTA (Radio Television Afghanistan) building this morning. Two blew themselves up and two others are still resisting,” government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP. He had earlier said there were three attackers.
“At least two civilians have been killed and 14 others wounded so far,” Kohgyani said, with a health worker telling AFP that many of those brought to hospital suffered gunshot wounds.
An RTA photographer said he fled the building as soon as the gunfight erupted, but many of his colleagues were still stuck inside. Unconfirmed reports said that Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Islamic State insurgents are active in Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital.
The US military last month dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb- dubbed the “Mother Of All Bombs”- on IS positions in Nangarhar, killing dozens of jihadists.
The bombing triggered global shock waves, with some condemning the use of Afghanistan as what they called a testing ground for the weapon, and against a militant group that is not considered as big a threat as the resurgent Taliban.
According to the US Forces- Afghanistan, defections and recent battlefield losses have reduced the local IS presence from a peak of as many as 3,000 fighters to a maximum of 800.
The Pentagon has reportedly asked the White House to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan to break the deadlocked fight against the Taliban.