Kabul/Baghdad, July 31 (IANS) A suicide bomber and gunmen from the Islamic State attacked the Iraqi Embassy in the Afghan capital on Monday, leaving two guards dead, officials said.
The attack on the Embassy complex in the Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood lasted for nearly four hours until all attackers were killed by the security forces, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.
The incident happened at around noon. A bomber blew himself up at the gate of the Embassy while three others stormed the building. The insurgents were in police uniforms.
At around 11.10 a.m., four terrorists attacked the Embassy. First, a terrorist detonated his explosive at the first gate and three assailants entered the building, the Afghan media quoted the Ministry as saying.
“The terrorist attack ended with killing of the attackers,” the Ministry said.
The Afghan government said one policeman was injured and all Embassy staff were safely evacuated.
But the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that although its top diplomat in Kabul had been taken safely to the Egyptian Embassy, attempts were under way to remove two other Embassy employees. It added that two Afghan guards were killed.
“The Charge d’Affaires was evacuated to the Egyptian Ambassy,” the Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency. “The attack killed two of its Afghan guards.”
In a separate statement, Jamal said “two of the diplomats of the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul traded fire with the terrorists who broke into the Embassy compound”.
The Islamic State said it carried out the attack.
“IS fighters had placed explosives at the Iraqi embassy entrance, and two of them had entered the building where at least seven guards were killed in the ensuing conflict,” said two unauthenticated statements published online by IS-linked Amaq news agency.
Pictures on social media showed black plumes of smoke rising into the sky.
The attack came a week after at least 35 people were killed in a suicide attack on government workers in Kabul. Last week’s attack was claimed by the Taliban.
According to the UN, Afghanistan has seen at least 1,662 civilian deaths in the first half of 2017, with about 20 per cent of those in the capital.