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'Gun battle under way' after blast in east Afghanistan

31 Jul 2018 Al Jazeera

A gun battle is under way in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad after an explosion was heard near the city's provincial hospital, according to provincial officials. 

Nangarhar provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP news agency that gunmen had stormed the refugees and repatriation department compound, which is in the area where the explosion was heard. Several international organisations are also in the vicinity. 

Provincial official Zabihullah Zemarai said a heavy gun battle is taking place between Afghan security forces and the attackers. He added that he could not confirm if there were any casualties. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. 

The blast is the latest in a series of attacks that hit Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, in recent weeks, killing and wounding dozens of people. 

On Saturday, a series of explosions went off in the city before attackers rushed a medical training centre for midwives. A gun battle that lasted for nearly six hours then ensued, in which two people were killed. 

On Monday, Nangarhar provincial health officials said that in the last three months at least 160 people have been killed and more than 490 wounded in attacks on the province.

Roadside bomb kills eight in Farah

Separately, a roadside bomb hit a Kabul-bound passenger bus in western Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and wounding about 40 others, including many women and children, officials said.

"It was a bomb planted by the Taliban to hit security forces but unfortunately it got a passenger bus," Farah provincial police spokesman Muhibullah Muhib told AFP news agency.There was no immediate confirmation that the Taliban was responsible for the blast.The explosion took place as the bus travelled through Bala Baluk district of Farah at 4:30 am (00:00 GMT), provincial governor spokesman Naser Mehri told AFP.Photos posted on social media purportedly of the bus showed the vehicle's blackened shell and dozens of men standing at the scene.The Taliban has a heavy presence in Farah. It launched a major attempt to take over the provincial capital in May, triggering intense fighting with US and Afghan forces. After a day-long battle, Taliban fighters were forced to the outskirts of the city.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), such as remotely detonated or pressure-plate bombs, are one of the main causes of casualties.Such IEDs caused 877 civilian casualties in the first half of 2018 - 232 deaths and 645 injuries - accounting for 17 percent of overall casualties.

Original Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/07/blasts-gunshots-reported-eastern-afghan-city-jalalabad-180731073627647.html

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