KABUL: Militants stormed an intelligence agency training facility in Kabul on Monday, officials said, triggering intense fighting with police in the latest Islamic State group attack to hit the Afghan capital.
“Around 10:10 a.m., a group of armed attackers entered an under-construction building in [the]NDS training center in (the) Afshar area of Kabul,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told Agence France-Presse, referring to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s spy agency.
“The fighting is ongoing and we have also launched our operation.”
Nasrat Rahim, a deputy interior ministry spokesman, said the sound of large and small arms fire could be heard from the fighting.
“There are three attackers involved… the clearance operation is ongoing,” said the spokesman, adding there were no immediate reports of any casualties.
Roads to the area were closed and dozens of police and intelligence officers were blocking access to the public. Agence France-Presse reporters, who were held more than a kilometer away from the scene, saw ambulances and reinforcements headed towards the site.
“I was going toward my school. It (the attack) happened suddenly… the police arrived in the area fast and blocked the roads, not allowing anyone to get to their homes,” Naweed, a student, told Agence France-Presse.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack through its propaganda arm.
“Two IS attackers raid the Afghan intelligence center in Kabul,” the jihadists’ Amaq outlet reported.
The Afghan capital has become one of the deadliest places in the war-torn country for civilians in recent months, as the resurgent Taliban and increasingly IS both step up their attacks, targeting security installations and mosques.
Security in Kabul has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the city’s diplomatic quarter, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians.
No group has officially claimed responsibility for that attack, which the government has blamed on the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network.