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Afghan insurgents attack International Red Cross in Jalalabad

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday and two more insurgents entered the building, local officials said.

Afghan security forces were fighting the attackers inside the ICRC building, according to Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province.

Black smoke billowed out of the building after the blast at 5:30 p.m. (1300 GMT), and heavy gunfire could be heard.

A spokesman at the Geneva-based ICRC headquarters said it was in touch with the Jalalabad office, where there are six foreign members of staff and dozens of local employees.

The attack came less than a week after a band of insurgents assaulted the office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kabul, killing three civilians and injuring four foreign aid workers.

The ICRC's $90 million-a-year operations in Afghanistan are the group's biggest in the world. Some 1,800 ICRC staff work on projects ranging from providing orthopedic limbs to the war wounded to visiting militants in Afghan jails.

[Source: Reuters, Jalalabad, Afg, 29May13]

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