18 killed in Taliban attack on Afghan bank

Jalalabad (Afghanistan), Feb 19 (AFP) Eighteen peoplewere killed and over 70 others were wounded, including policechiefs, today in a Taliban attack on a bank in Jalalabad,eastern Afghanistan.

Police collecting their salaries were among thecasualties including Alishah Paktyamwal, police chief ofNangarhar province where Jalalabad is located, and his deputy.

The incident is third major attack in a week targetingpolice in Afghanistan, who alongside the army are due to takecontrol of the war-torn country''s security from 2014, allowingmost international troops to withdraw.

It happened when seven Taliban suicide bombers burst intoa branch of Kabul Bank in the city and detonated theirdevices. There was also a hail of gunfire as the attackunfolded.

"Unfortunately, 18 of our countrymen were martyred andmore than 70 injured," Gul Agha Shirzay, provincial governorof Nangarhar province, told a press conference.

He added that seven suicide attackers armed with guns andgrenades carried out the attack.

The casualties included police, bank staff and civilians.

One of the dead was a police officer as were 14 of theinjured.

One man who was in the bank when the attack started, whogave his name as Ewazullah, told AFP that the gunmen were"killing indiscriminately".

"I was in the bank to withdraw some money when severalarmed men entered, fired some shots in the air and then toldthe people to gather to one side and then they startedshooting," he said.

"They were killing indiscriminately, I was hiding in acorner."

Baz Mohammad Shirzad, regional health director foreastern Afghanistan, said he had asked for extra army securityat the hospital where the injured were being treated amidfears of a possible fresh attack there.

Although the fighting is now over, a curfew has beenimposed across the city by local police banning cars from theroads, an AFP reporter said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack.

"People were there doing business deals and to receivetheir salaries," he said. "This attack once again showed thecruel actions of the terrorists who do not want the people ofAfghanistan to live in peace."

A medical source speaking on condition of anonymity saidthe police chief of Nangarhar province where Jalalabad islocated, Alishah Paktyamwal, plus his deputy and the city''scriminal police chief were slightly hurt. (AFP)

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