Logar Province, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan
Logar Province, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD - Afghan officials said Islamic State militants have killed at least six security forces, including a district police chief, in a predawn attack in eastern Afghanistan.

The assault on the police headquarters in the Haska Mena district in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, triggered an hourslong intense firefight that left at least 15 Islamic State assailants dead and seven wounded, a provincial government spokesman said.

The timely arrival of reinforcements enabled Afghan forces to defeat the attack, Attaullah Khogyani told VOA, although at least six other policemen were wounded.

Local media and residents, however, reported at least 11 security personnel were wounded and six of them were in “critical condition.”

The heavily armed attackers reportedly managed to enter police headquarters in the surprise assault before being pushed back.

Mosque hit

In the neighboring Rodat district, an improvised device planted in a mosque detonated during Friday prayers, killing at least four worshippers and wounding more than 70 others. The prayer leader was among the dead.

The United Nations condemned the targeting of civilians as a war crime and demanded the perpetrators be held accountable.

The Islamist Taliban denied it was behind the bombing.

Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province is where Taliban insurgents are active, but IS fighters have also set up bases in some remote border districts and have occasionally engaged in bloody clashes with the Taliban.

U.S. drones and Afghan fighter planes have been frequently targeting IS bases in Nangarhar since the beginning of the year and have claimed to have degraded the group's efforts to expand its influence to other Afghan regions.

Meanwhile, Afghan authorities have reported no progress in their search for a kidnapped Indian woman from the Aga Khan Foundation.

Judith D’Souza, 40, was abducted by unknown gunmen in Kabul Thursday evening while she was returning home from work. Indian officials say they are in touch with Kabul to secure here safe release.