ISIS claims to be behind attack on Afghan TV station

The scene of the attack on Radio Television Afghanistan in Nangarhar province yesterday.
The scene of the attack on Radio Television Afghanistan in Nangarhar province yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Four-hour assault leaves six dead and at least 17 injured

JALALABAD (Afghanistan) • The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a national TV station in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar that killed at least six people and wounded at least 17.

As the attack unfolded yesterday, heavy gunfire could be heard from around the building of Radio Television Afghanistan, the country's state broadcaster, near the governor's compound in the provincial capital of Jalalabad.

"Islamic State fighters are currently carrying out an attack inside the state broadcasting building in the city of Jalalabad," said the ISIS-linked AMAQ news agency.

Nangarhar Governor Gulab Mangal told reporters: "There were four attackers - one blew himself up at the gate, killing the guard. Three others entered the building but were killed after our security forces fought them for four hours."

Two policemen were killed in the fighting. The Taleban, which also has a strong presence in the region, denied responsibility.

ISIS has established a stronghold in the province bordering Pakistan, where it fights both the Taleban and Afghan government forces.

The group has recently been hit hard by United States air strikes and special forces operations. The US last month dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb - dubbed the "Mother Of All Bombs" - on ISIS positions in Nangarhar, killing dozens of militants.

The head of ISIS in Afghanistan, Abdul Hassib, was reported this month to have been killed in a joint Afghan-US operation in Nangarhar at the end of last month.

According to the US Forces- Afghanistan, defections and recent battlefield losses have reduced the ISIS presence from up to 3,000 fighters to about 800.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for recent attacks in Kabul, including one in March on Afghanistan's largest military hospital.

The Afghan Journalists' Safety Committee said the country is the world's second-most dangerous for reporters after Syria. At least 13 journalists were killed last year, it said, blaming the Taleban for at least 10 deaths.

In January last year, seven employees of popular TV channel Tolo, which is often critical of the insurgents, were killed in a Taleban suicide bombing in Kabul, in what the militant group said was revenge for "spreading propaganda" against it.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'ISIS claims to be behind attack on Afghan TV station'. Print Edition | Subscribe