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24Jan18


Islamic State attacks Save the Children charity in eastern Afghanistan


The Islamic State's Khorasan Province claimed credit for a suicide assault on a Save the Children charity office in the capital of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province earlier today. The attack forced the charity to shut down its offices across the country.

At least two people were killed and more than 20 were wounded during the attack in Jalalabad, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. At least four Islamic State fighters were believed to be involved in the operation; at least three have been killed.

According to Reuters, the attackers were reportedly wearing police uniforms. They opened the attack by detonating a car bomb at the wall of the compound. Fighters then stormed the building and engaged with Afghan security forces. At least one policeman was reportedly killed in the attack.

The Islamic State's Khorasan province claimed the assault in an official statement released on Amaq News Agency, the group's official propaganda arm. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quick to state that the attack "has nothing to do with the Mujahidin of Islamic Emirate."

Save the Children announced that "all of our programs across Afghanistan have been temporarily suspended and our offices are closed" due to the attack. The charity said its program "reaches almost 1.4 million children," and is "committed to resuming our operations and lifesaving work as quickly as possible, as soon as we can be assured that it is safe to do so."

The Islamic State's Khorasan Province continues to launch attacks against soft targets in Kabul and elsewhere despite a concerted US and Afghan offensive against the group's main base of operations in a handful of districts in Nangarhar. Khorasan Province has bolstered its ranks with disaffected Taliban commanders and fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, it remains comparatively small when compared to the Afghan Taliban or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.

Today's attack took place four days after the Taliban assaulted the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. More than 20 people were reportedly killed and dozens more wounded. That attack targeted several foreigners, many of whom were guests the hotel. Kam Air, one of three airlines that flies between Afghan cities, was forced to shut down its operations after many of its pilots and staff were killed or wounded during the attack, according to Reuters.

The attacks in Kabul and Jalalabad continue to undermine the Afghan government's ability to act as a legitimate security force. The Afghan forces are planning to launch an offensive against jihadist groups in 2018. Despite Resolute Support's claim that 2017 was a failure for the Taliban, the group controlled or contested more territory in 2017 than any time since the US invasion in late 2001.

[Source: By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, Fdds, NJ, 24Jan18]

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