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Gunmen Storm Afghan Office Of Save The Children

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Updated at 8:50 ET

Gunmen set off explosives before opening fire on a provincial office of the aid group Save the Children in Afghanistan, killing at least two people and wounding more than a dozen others, local officials say.

At least 14 people were hurt in the attack Wednesday in Jalalabad and had been evacuated to the Nangarhar regional hospital; however, the number of casualties could rise as the gun battle with assailants continued, hospital spokesman Inamullah Miakhial said.

Afghanistan's Tolo news service, monitored by Al-Jazeera, said an initial blast in the attack was caused by a suicide car bomber.

The BBC quotes local journalist Bilal Sarwary as saying police told him that Afghan commandos were trying to flush out the attackers, who were on upper floors of the building armed with heavy machine guns, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, specifically denied the group's involvement.

Islamic State militants have reportedly been active in and around Jalalabad, located about 40 miles from the Pakistan border, since 2015.

In a statement, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former Dutch prime minister and current CEO of Save the Children International, said the non-governmental organization was "devastated" at news of the attack. "Our primary concern is for the safety and security of our staff," she said.

The attack on the group follows a lengthy siege on Kabul's luxury Intercontinental Hotel over the weekend that killed at least 22 people, including several U.S. citizens.

As NPR's Merrit Kennedy reports, the attack on the heavily protected hotel, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility, is "the latest in a series of large attacks in Kabul. An attack in December on a cultural center killed at least 41 people. And in May, a truck bomb in Kabul killed more than 150 people."

And in Jalalabad last month, a motorcycle-riding suicide bomber struck outside a soccer stadium in the city, killing at least six people and wounding 13.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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