Spate of attacks in eastern Afghanistan marks push by Islamic State militants

KABUL — A squad of assailants, including gunmen and a suicide bomber, stormed a government building Wednesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing at least 11 people, in the latest of half a dozen deadly attacks in that region since mid-June. No group has asserted responsibility for the attack, but most of the others have been claimed by the Islamic State.

The morning attack on a busy education office building in the crowded provincial capital left several dozen officials and visitors trapped for hours while insurgents and security forces exchanged gunfire, officials and witnesses said. Ten other people were injured.

Wednesday’s attack came one day after a suicide bombing in Jalalabad, claimed by the Islamic State, killed 12 people, including several children who were working in a car wash, officials said. The bomber detonated near a gas station, setting off a large fire. Two people working for the national intelligence agency, which has offices nearby, were among the dead.


A news agency affiliated with the extremist Sunni militia released a statement saying ‘‘a martyrdom attack using an explosives jacket hit a gathering of Afghan intelligence.’’

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The spate of Islamic State attacks in the Jalalabad region and surrounding Nangahar province has come as US and Afghan Special Operations forces have stepped up their joint counterterror campaign against the violent foreign-based insurgent group.

It also comes as hopes have soared for negotiations and reconciliation with the Taliban, a strictly Afghan insurgency, after a successful three-day cease-fire between the Taliban and the government of President Ashraf Ghani that triggered an outpouring of emotional support and sent Taliban fighters pouring into cities and towns to greet civilians and Afghan troops.

During and shortly after that three-day truce, the Islamic State staged two deadly attacks in Nangahar, both aimed at gatherings or locations where government officials, elders, and clerics, and local Taliban forces had met to talk for the first time in the 17-year conflict.

Washington Post