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Suicide bomber, gunmen attack Red Cross building in Afghanistan; four killed

Rahmat Gul / AP

An Afghan policeman is seen at the burning Red Cross building in Jalalabad during a gunbattle with insurgents on Wednesday. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate and gunmen rushed inside, police said.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a Red Cross building in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, clearing the way for two other insurgents to run inside and open fire, police said.

Four people, including the three attackers and a Red Cross guard at the gate, were killed, and the head of the Red Cross office was injured, said Abdul Ahad Fazli, spokesman for the Jalalabad police chief.

Rahmat Gul / AP

Afghan police take positions Wednesday during a gunbattle with insurgents at a Red Cross building in Jalalabad.

A firefight between police and the insurgents lasted about two hours, ending by 1 p.m. ET with the insurgents dead, Fazli said.

He described the storming of the building as having been carried out by “suicide” attackers.

A witness said by telephone that after the initial explosion, gunfire could be heard as the insurgents infiltrated the compound.

The shockwave from the blast broke windows in shops and homes in the area, he said.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs, said on Twitter that all seven foreign Red Cross staff members present during the attack had been safely escorted out of the building by police.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva confirmed the attack and said that one of its guards had been killed and another employee wounded.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of the Red Cross in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, allowing militants to get inside the building. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

"We have been in contact with the rest of our staff in Jalalabad and they are safe and well," the group said on its official Twitter account.

The ICRC maintains its largest operation in Afghanistan, with about 1,800 staff members at 11 offices in the country, according to its website.

The attack on the Red Cross building came just hours after a similar one on provincial government offices in Panjsheer province. In that attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main entrance to the offices, clearing the way for five gunmen to enter, Panjsheer Police Chief Haseeb Junglbagh said.

The five men, all of whom wore police uniforms, entered the building and opened fire, Junglbagh said, adding that all five were killed by police officers. One officer was killed and another wounded.

The Taliban, through spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the first attack.

NBC News Producer Khyber Shinwari contributed to this report.

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