The ISIS terrorist group claimed on Tuesday responsibility for an attack against a television station in the Afghan capital Kabul that left at least two people dead.
Gunmen disguised as police killed a security guard and opened fire on staff, in the latest assault on media workers in Afghanistan. Some 20 people were wounded in the assault against Shamshad TV, a private Pashto-language broadcaster based close to the national stadium.
During the attack, a special forces unit blasted a hole in the concrete wall around the compound and entered the site amid a crack of gunfire. At least one attacker was killed during the operation, while another was killed at the compound entrance.
Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the casualties were a male and a female security guard at Shamshad TV.
"There were two attackers and both have been killed," Danish said shortly after the attack, adding that the police have sealed off the station and were combing the premises.
He said the police rescued some of the TV staff as the attack was unfolding but he did not elaborate.
“People dressed in police clothes came in and initially threw hand grenades, which killed one of our guards and wounded another,” Abed Ehsas, Shamshad’s news director told broadcaster Tolo News TV.
“After that, others got into our building and started firing. Some of our colleagues were hit, though, thank God, many others managed to get out. Some were wounded by gunshots, falling glass and when they jumped from high floors.”
In a statement on its news agency Amaq, ISIS claimed responsibility, without giving evidence. The group, based mainly in the eastern province of Nangarhar, has claimed a number of attacks on civilian targets in the Afghan capital.
Shortly after the beginning of the attack, the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued an immediate denial of involvement.
Later on Tuesday, NATO announced that it is set to agree on Thursday to increase by some 3,000 personnel the troop levels for the alliance’s Afghanistan training mission.
About half the additional troops will come from the United States and the other half from non-US NATO allies and partner countries, said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“We have decided to increase the number of troops ... to help the Afghans break the stalemate,” Stoltenberg told a news conference on Tuesday before a meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers later this week.
Stoltenberg stressed the soldiers would not have combat roles but would be part of NATO’s train, advise and assist mission called Resolute Support.
US Army General John Nicholson, the commander of the Resolute Support mission and of US forces in Afghanistan, called for more troops in February, saying that a few thousand more troops would make a difference in weakening the Taliban and other militants.
The NATO contribution would take Resolute Support, which is building up Afghanistan’s army and air force, to around 16,000 troops, up from around 13,000 today, Stoltenberg said.
Under a new strategy announced by US President Donald Trump, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in September that more than 3,000 additional US troops will be deployed to Afghanistan.