The death toll in an ongoing suicide and gun attack on a police-training centre in a southeast Afghan city has risen to 32 with more than 200 wounded, a hospital official said Tuesday.
“The hospital is overwhelmed and we call on people to donate blood,” said Shir Mohammad Karimi, deputy health director in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province.
A separate attack in a neighbouring province on Tuesday left 15 security forces dead and 12 wounded, as militants step up their offensives following a ratcheting up in US airstrikes in a war-weary country marking 16 years of conflict this month.
The victims of the ongoing Gardez attack, which was claimed by the Taliban in a tweet, include women, students and police, officials told AFP.
“At first a suicide bomber detonated a car filled with explosives near the training centre, making way for a number of attackers to start their assault,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
A battle between the attackers, armed with guns and suicide vests, and security forces is underway inside the centre, which is located near the Paktia police headquarters, it said.
Fighting has been going on for more than four hours.
A local official said two car bombs went off near the compound that also houses the provincial headquarters of the national police, border police and Afghan National Army.
“A group of gunmen have entered the compound and fighting is ongoing,” Allah Mir Bahram, a member of the Paktia provincial council, told AFP.
Photos posted on Twitter purportedly show two large plumes of smoke rising above the city, suggesting two bombs were detonated in the assault.
Paktia borders Pakistan’s militancy-plagued tribal areas where the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network has a presence.
The attack came hours after a US drone strike in Pakistan’s Kurram tribal district, part of which borders Paktia, killed at least 26 Haqqani militants, officials have said.
Local officials told AFP that drones were still flying above Kurram after the attack, the deadliest targeting militants in the Pakistani tribal region this year.
In Kurram last week the Pakistani military rescued a US-Canadian family who had been abducted by militants in Afghanistan in 2012. US President Donald Trump has said they were being held by the Haqqani network.