ISIS militants stormed the offices of the “Save the Children” charity after detonating explosives in the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan. At least six were killed and 27 wounded in the attack which took place on 27 January. A suicide car bomb started the attack and then continued with explosive bombardment, followed by armed insurgents storming the office. It is a continuation of the campaign by ISIS against British and Swedish companies in the Eastern Nangarhar province, in which they have recently gained a foothold. Security services battled the insurgents for around ten hours, rescuing 50 people from the basement of the building. Save the Children employees report that they heard explosions and saw the insurgents rushing into the building after throwing grenades. One of the employees, Zabiullah, told the Guardian that upon seeing fighting breaking out and wounded colleagues, “We rushed the basement, we were terrified and locked the door.”
The UK ambassador for Afghanistan, Nick Kay, called the attacks an outrage and said “Any attack on children and humanitarians is a crime against humanity.” The attacks come amidst a turbulent time in the region. A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility for the attack after the group were behind a siege in an intercontinental hotel in Kabul at the weekend. The campaign against ISIS has been heating up, with the US claiming their coalition airstrikes had killed 150 militants at a headquarters in Syria, with no civilian casualties. Tactics by ISIS have grown desperate as they were forced out of Syria on multiple fronts by coalition forces.
The attack on Save the Children is a continuation of their Afghanistan operations which have been limited by coalition airstrikes and their ongoing fight with the Afghanistan Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Save the Children said they are “shocked and appalled” by the attacks and have temporarily halted operations in the area. They released a statement saying they hope to resume their “life saving work as quickly as possible.” Aid workers have been in increasing danger over the last year as militant groups have started targeting their operations. Red Cross workers were attacked while attempting to deliver aid last February in Afghanistan. It is seen as a strategy to increase fear but has been largely ineffective with humanitarian organisations continuing to conduct operations in the Middle East.
The threat from ISIS led to concern from Western governments, as the organisation is relatively new, with a lack of intelligence on their methods. However, a well targetting campaign against their ground forces has reduced their capabilties.