Gunmen Kill at Least 28 in Raid on Afghan Government Building

December 24, 2018 Updated: December 24, 2018

KABUL—Gunmen who raided a government building in the Afghan capital killed at least 28 people—mostly government employees—and wounded more than 20 others in a seven-hour standoff with police that ended on the night of Dec. 24, Afghan authorities said.

Others killed included a policeman and three of the attackers who were shot dead by Afghan security forces, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

The attack began in the afternoon when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a car outside the public works ministry. Terrorists then stormed the building of the National Authority for Disabled People and Martyrs’ Families, taking civilians hostage as they fought a gun battle against Afghan soldiers.

Afghan security forces went from floor to floor of the building in an operation to rescue over 350 people inside, but had to exercise restraint in their operations against the attackers given the number of employees there, a senior security official said.

No terrorist group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ambulances raced to the scene during a lull in the shooting, a witness who lives nearby told Reuters. At least 20 people wounded in the clashes were taken to a hospital.

An official working in another government building close by said employees had locked themselves in their offices after hearing the explosions and gunfire. During the standoff, the building’s second floor caught fire, local news channels reported.

Attacks on government offices are frequent and are generally carried out by the Taliban.

The 17-year-old war with the Taliban has seen both fighting and diplomacy intensify in recent months.

Afghan security forces
Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Dec. 24, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani)

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi