“Militants” launched their second suicide assault in Afghanistan today in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar. The target of the attack was an office run by the International Committee of the Red Cross. From Reuters:
Seven staff members, believed to be the total number of foreign workers at the ICRC in Jalalabad, were rescued by Afghan police during the attack, which involved a suicide bomber and three gunmen, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Police carried away the blood-soaked body of the guard who was shot dead at the beginning of the assault, which started when the suicide bomber detonated explosives at the ICRC gate at 5:30 p.m. (1300 GMT).
The attack was the first of its kind on the strictly neutral ICRC in Afghanistan since it started operations in the country in 1987. ICRC water engineer Ricardo Munguia was shot dead in Afghanistan in 2003.
Earlier today, the Taliban launched a suicide assault that breached the governor’s compound in the northern province of Panjshir, which has largely escaped the Taliban insurgency.
The attack in Jalalabad is also the second against international charitable organizations in Afghanistan in a week. On May 24, the Taliban killed three civilians in a complex suicide attack in Kabul against the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, as well as the Dutch Embassy and the Afghan Police Protection Force. Afghan and Coalition security forces battled the Taliban suicide assault team for nearly 19 hours before killing the last member.
Today’s attack against the Red Cross and last week’s attack against the International Organization for Migration were likely organized by a committee run by Abdul Hafiz, a Taliban commander who previously was in US custody at Guantanamo Bay before he was released in December 2009. Hafiz promptly returned to the Taliban and now runs a committee that deals with ransoms and engagement with nongovernmental organizations.
Hafiz has experience dealing with NGOs. He is suspected of being involved in the March 2003 kidnapping and murder of Ricardo Munguía, an employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross. [See LWJ report, Former Gitmo detainee targeting Afghan charities.]
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