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Jan 24, 6:13 AM EST

Insurgents attack children's group in Afghanistan, 2 dead


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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A group of gunmen stormed a non-governmental children's organization in eastern Nangarhar province on Wednesday, killing two, provincial officials said.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack targeted Save the Children's provincial office in Jalalabad.

Khogyani said a police officer and a civilian were killed in the attack. One insurgent carried out a suicide bombing, a second was killed by police and a third was still fighting, he said.

Inamullah Miakhial, spokesman for Nangarhar regional hospital, said at least 14 wounded were brought to the hospital. The casualty count could rise as a gun battle was still underway, he said.

The attack started with the suicide bomber and was followed by gunfire, said Khogyani.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the Taliban was not involved in the attack. The Islamic State group is also active in eastern Nangarhar province.

Monica Zanarelli, the International Committee of the Red Cross' head of delegation in Afghanistan, said that an attack against an organization that helps children is "outrageous."

"Civilians and aid workers must not be targeted," she said in a statement. "Increased violence has made operating in Afghanistan difficult for many organizations."

The attack follows a deadly weekend siege of the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital Kabul in which 22 people were killed, including 14 foreigners. Multiple U.S. citizens were killed and injured in the Taliban's 13-hour siege of the hotel, the State Department said Tuesday. No exact figures were immediately available for either the U.S. fatalities or injuries.

Eleven of the 14 foreigners had been previously identified as working for the private Afghan airline KamAir. During a ceremony at Kabul's airport Wednesday the bodies of seven Ukrainian citizens were handed over to officials for transfer to Ukraine.

Mirwais Samadi, head of the consulate department of the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry, said the attack was launched by "terrorists" and their supporters.

"Some of our countrymen were martyred and some foreign nationals also were killed," he said. "We express our condolences and thoughts to the victims and families."

In eastern Ghazni province, meanwhile, four Afghan police were killed after their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents, said Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Six insurgents were killed and three were wounded in the battle, which took place early morning Wednesday in Dayak district, said Noori.

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Associated Press writer Amir Shah contributed to this report.

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