has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Pakistani consulate in eastern Afghanistan that left at least seven members of the Afghan security forces dead.
In a statement translated by the US monitor Site Intelligence, the “Khorasan Province of the Islamic State” said three of its members had attacked the consulate in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, which borders . Afghan officials said seven members of the security forces were killed in the attack.
Attaullah Khyogani, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said another seven people were injured in the attack, which began when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside the consulate and ended with a gun battle between Afghan security forces and the militants.
All three attackers were killed, he said. The attack and gun battle lasted for about three and a half hours, he added.
Hazrat Hussein Mashraqiwal, the spokesman for the provincial police chief, said the dead included three police and two intelligence service officers, one each from the army and border police. Three civilians were among the seven people injured, he said.
It was the first insurgent-style attack on a Pakistani diplomatic facility in , an official at the Pakistani embassy said.
Pakistani government property has come under attack in the past during protests by Afghans angry at Islamabad’s perceived support for the Taliban, who have waged war on the Kabul administration for more than 14 years.
The scene of the attack is close to a hospita, schools and the Indian consulate. The schools were evacuated, officials said.
The Pakistani consulate is usually busy during morning rush hour as people queue for visas. The suicide bomber joined the visa queue before blowing himself up, officials said. The embassy official said all consular staff were evacuated.
In Islamabad, the foreign affairs ministry condemned what it called “the terrorist attack” and requested a thorough investigation. One official at the consulate was slightly injured by broken glass, it said in a statement.
Nangarhar is home to a number of insurgent groups and criminal gangs who benefit from the province’s proximity to the Pakistan border. Insurgent attacks are not uncommon in Jalalabad.
Isis has established a presence in Nangarhar, having fought the Taliban in recent months for control of at least four border districts. The attack comes two days after Islamabad hosted a meeting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US .
Pakistan is widely believed to support the Taliban through its security service, though Islamabad denies the claim. The Taliban , with the insurgents divided over their support for a peace process.
The attack is the latest incident in a spate of violence since the start of 2016, which could be a tough year for Afghanistan as insurgents are expected to escalate their violence in order to enter into any peace negotiations from a position of strength.
During the first week of January a restaurant frequented by foreigners in Kabul and a contractors’ camp on the outskirts of the capital were attacked, and the Indian consulate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was besieged for more than 24 hours.
Further south, in Helmand province, the governor of Gereshk district in the poppy-growing river valley, said nine police officers were killed overnight Tuesday in a Taliban assault. Mohammad Ashraf said two others were wounded. He had no further details.
Helmand has seen fierce fighting between Taliban and government forces in recent months. The province is the source of opium that produces most of the world’s heroin and provides an important funding source for the insurgency.