JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Jan 13 – Afghan security forces exchanged fire with gunmen barricaded in a house near the Pakistan consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday after a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing as many as six people and wounding two, officials said.
Witnesses said heavy gunfire and a series of explosions could be heard and residents and children from a nearby school had been evacuated.
Earlier, Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said a suicide bomber had tried to join a queue of people seeking visas to Pakistan and blew himself up after being prevented from entering the building.
The latest in a series of suicide attacks in Afghanistan comes amid renewed efforts to restart peace talks with the Taliban and ease diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan.
Last week, there was a blast in the same part of Jalalabad, that did not cause any casualties, while three insurgents were killed after an all-night gunbattle following an attack on the Indian consulate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States met this week to try to resurrect efforts to end nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan, even as fighting with the Taliban intensifies.
Tension between India and Pakistan has risen since the attack on its consulate and an air base that killed seven Indian military personnel near their shared border. India has blamed the attacks on Pakistan-based militants.
A rare meeting between the foreign secretaries of both countries had been tentatively scheduled for later this week, but it is unclear if it would still happen after the attacks.
There was no claim of responsibility for the blast in Jalalabad, which is the main trade gateway to the Khyber Pass and Pakistan.
Pakistan says many Pakistani Taliban militants, who are separate from but allied with the Afghan Taliban, and are fighting to bring down the Pakistani state, have sought refuge in Afghanistan from a Pakistani army offensive against them.
In Pakistan on Wednesday, at least 14 people were killed in a blast near a polio vaccination center in the southwestern city of Quetta.