Militants attacked the offices of British human rights agency Save the Children in Jalalabad, Afghanistan Wednesday. A suicide bomber killed himself at the gate, and militants rushed in. The organization suspended all programs across Afghanistan as the situation continued.
“Save the Children can confirm that the security incident affecting our office in Jalalabad, Afghanistan is still ongoing. Our primary concern remains to secure the safety of all of our staff. In response to this all of our programmes across Afghanistan have been temporarily suspended and our offices are closed,” the organization announced in a statement.
— Save the Children (@save_children) January 24, 2018
“Afghanistan is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a child and for humanitarian workers to operate in,” Save the Children continued. “Our humanitarian work in Afghanistan reaches almost 1.4 million children. We remain committed to resuming our operations and lifesaving work as quickly as possible, as soon as we can be assured that it is safe to do so.
The assault began early Wednesday morning, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the gate, Hataullah Khogyani, a spokesman for Nangarhar province, told CNN. At least one assailant stormed the building and was later killed by security forces. Authorities believe one attacker is still fighting within the building.
The militants killed one police officer and one civilian, and injured at least 20 others. A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mojahid, denied responsibility for the attack in a statement.
#Nangarhar – gunshots ring out as clashes continue between insurgents and security forces after militants launched an attack on the #SaveTheChildren organization in #Jalalabad city #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/sqCYDbmHEg
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) January 24, 2018
“This is an outrage. Any attack on children & humanitarians is a crime against humanity,” Britain’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Nick Kay, declared on Twitter.
— Sir Nick Kay (@NicholasK111) January 24, 2018
This despicable attack proved too much even for the Taliban, but violence across the country has led many organizations to pull back from the country.
In October, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced it would reduce its presence in Afghanistan after its staff were directly targeted many times. At least six Red Cross aid workers were killed in February.
The situation worsened recently in the capital of Kabul, where assailants stormed the Intercontinental Hotel, killing at least 22 people — 14 of whom were foreign nationals. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry claimed 153 people were rescued form the hotel.
International charities should be concerned for their staff in Afghanistan, but these attacks suggest their aid is more important than ever. It is tragic to see Save the Children shut down all programs in the country after this attack. Let’s hope they reopen as quickly as possible.