'Save the Children' organisation suspends all activities in Afghanistan after ISIL attack

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wednesday, UK-based non-governmental charity organisation Save the Children announced in an official statement on their website the temporary suspension of all their activities in Afghanistan. The reason for this is an ISIL-claimed attack on a Save the Children office in Jalalabad, Nangarhar, which cost the lives of three staff members of the charity.

A group of militants attacked Save the Children's office after a suicide car explosion Wednesday morning just after 9 AM, local time. Staff member Zabiullah told The Guardian he heard "a very big explosion", after which he and his friends "rushed the basement". According to the latest reports, the attackers killed six people in total and injured more than two dozen people. One eyewitness said the attackers used rocket-propelled grenades to blast the compound gates, according to the BBC.

Location of Nangarhar within Afghanistan
Image: TUBS.

A spokesperson for Nangarhar's governor said in a statement, six militants were involved in the attack. Later, in an updated statement, he said there were only five and all of them were killed. Afghan security personnel said the attackers killed two soldiers, two guards and two civilians. Sohrab Qaderi, a government member of Nangarhar province, said about four dozen people were rescued from the basement of the building, most of whom were Save the Children employees. They managed to escape through a back exit, one of them told the BBC afterwards. It took about ten hours to stop the attack, Qaderi added.

"We have temporarily suspended our operations across the country following today's events, however we remain fully committed to helping the most deprived children of Afghanistan", stated Save the Children in an official statement published Wednesday. They added, "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." Furthermore, the organisation confirmed in the statement the death of three of its own staff members, one of whom was one of the two killed civilians. They also said four other staff members, who were injured, were receiving medical aid.

Via Amaq news agency, militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed the responsibility of the attack, calling British and Swedish foundations, as well as institutes of the Afghan government, the targets of the attack.

Save the Children established operations in Afghanistan in 1976. As of 2018, it was present in sixteen Afghan provinces. In recent years, several attacks on rescue organisations have taken place northern Afghanistan. In February 2017, six people working for the Red Cross were killed in Dasth-e-Leili, Jowzjan Province while delivering humanitarian aid. Nine members of Czech-based organisation People in Need were killed in Balkh in 2015; and in 2013, six staff members of ACTED, a French charity, were shot dead in Faryab.