Suicide bombs near Afghan airport kill 16

Suicide bombs near Afghan airport kill 16

Militants in Afghanistan have set off a double suicide blast and stormed a construction company near the airport in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, killing at least 16 people, officials said.

The dawn assault triggered an hours-long battle with local guards, drawing in US forces to assist the Afghan troops.

Nine people were also wounded in the attack, according to Attahullah Khogyani, the provincial governor's spokesman.

No one immediately claimed the attack but the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar.

The two groups have been carrying out near-daily attacks across Afghanistan in recent years, mainly targeting the government and Afghan security forces and causing staggering casualties, including among civilians.

The attacks have continued despite stepped-up US efforts to find a negotiated resolution of the 17-year war, America's longest.

Wednesday's attack began at around 5am and five attackers were involved, Mr Khogyani said. Two of them detonated their explosives, blowing themselves up, while the remaining three were killed in the shooting.

The attackers were on foot and after setting off suicide blasts at the company gates, the others stormed in, triggering a battle that drew US forces to the scene, according to General Ghulam Sanayee Stanikzai, the provincial police chief.

"US forces are supporting Afghan forces in securing the area now," Gen Stanikzai later said.

As the attack unfolded, President Ashraf Ghani arrived for a visit to neighbouring Kunar province to inaugurate an administrative health complex and to lay the cornerstone of a 200-bed hospital.

It was unclear why the construction company, called MQ, was targeted.

Over the weekend, the Taliban targeted an Afghan army unit at its camp in southern Helmand province, killing at least 23 troops and wounding more than 20 others.

That attack began on Friday and ended 40 hours later on Saturday evening.

The Taliban claimed the Helmand attack, which came as insurgents were meeting a US peace envoy in Qatar for talks.

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