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Uniformed and plainclothed Afghan security forces patrol the site of a deadly suicide attack in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2018. Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor said a group of gunmen stormed the office of the non-governmental organization, Save the Children.
AP Photo

5 Killed in ISIS Attack on Save the Children’s Afghanistan Offices

The offices of the global nonprofit Save the Children were attacked in Jalalabad, Afghanistan earlier today by ISIS militants.

Five people were killed, including three staff members of Save the Children, and dozens of others were wounded in the attack that included a suicide bomber and multiple gunmen who have been engaged in an hours-long gunfight with security forces, AP reports.

Local police were able to safely evacuate more than 40 people within the targeted area, according to AP, and children and teachers from nearby schools were also seen fleeing.

Take Action: Call on World Leaders to Fund Another Year of Education Cannot Wait to Keep Girls in School

The brutal attack has caused the aid organization to temporarily suspend efforts across the country as the security situation is assessed,  according to the New York Times.

"Save the Children can confirm that the security incident affecting our office in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, is still ongoing,” Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children said in a statement. “Our primary concern remains to secure the safety of all of our staff.”

ISIS said in a statement that it targeted “British and Swedish foundations and Afghan government institutes,” AP reports.

The UK-based Save the Children is active in 16 provinces across Afghanistan and it provides food, healthcare, education, and more to nearly 1.4 million children, according to the organization.

Read More: His School Was Burned Down. Now He’s Bringing Education to Thousands of Girls in Afghanistan.

Over the past few years, the Taliban has intensified its insurgency throughout the country with a relentless cascade of attacks on government building and public spaces, the Times noted.

ISIS has more recently gained traction in the country and has embarked on an accompanying insurgency, Al Jazeera reported.  

As a result, civilian deaths reached a 16-year high in 2017, the UN reported.

Nonprofits throughout the country have also been targeted throughout this rise in violence, according to the Times.

Read More: These 10 Humanitarian Crises Are Getting Worse in 2018

The Red Cross, for instance, has faced numerous attacks on its offices in Afghanistan over the past year and even briefly suspended its work following one attack last February.

“Civilians and aid workers must not be targeted,” Monica Zanarelli, the International Committee of the Red Cross’ head of delegation in Afghanistan, said in a statement earlier today. “Increased violence has made operating in Afghanistan difficult for many organizations.”

The attacks follow a growing trend of aid workers facing intimidation, abduction, and violence while carrying out their work around the world.

These recent threats have the cumulative effect of deterring humanitarian action in places where it’s most sorely needed.

Read More: Drugged and Raped: For Aid Workers, Sexual Assault Is a Hidden Menace

Afghanistan, for instance, has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world, its infrastructure has been ravaged by nearly two decades of war, and more than a third of all school-aged children are unable to go to school, exposing them to child marriage, forced labor, radicalization, and more.

Global Citizen partners with Save the Children and campaigns on their work to provide humanitarian aid to children. You can take action on this issue here.

Save the Children intends to resume operations once the situation is cleared, but the organization may do so with less staff and devote more resources to security.

“We remain committed to resuming our operations and lifesaving work as quickly as possible, as soon as we can be assured that it is safe to do so,” Miles, the CEO, said in her statement.