JUL 1, 2018: More than a dozen people died in a suicide bombing in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Sunday, a government spokesman said.
The blast hit a busy market in Mukhabirat square in the capital of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province killing at least 15 people and injuring at least 20 more, provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogiani said.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was in the city meeting with provincial officials, elders and chieftains.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, the latest in a series to have hit Jalalabad, where Islamic State fighters have established a strong presence in recent years.
Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said officials suspected that the Islamic State was behind the assault.
The attack underlined the fragile security situation in Afghanistan after last month’s brief ceasefire between government forces and the Taliban. The decision came after a meeting of Islamic clerics declared a fatwa, or ruling, against suicide bombings, one of which, claimed by ISIS, killed 14 people at the entrance to the clerics’ peace tent in Kabul.
The three-day truce did not include Islamic State, which fights both government forces and the Taliban and which has shown no sign of letting up its campaign of violence
The attacker was believed to have been targeting a group of Sikhs on their way to meet Ghani. At least 10 of the people who died in the attack were Sikh, a religion that originated in India.
Afghanistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation but a small number of Hindus and Sikhs remain in the country.
“It is over for us, we are finished, they have massacred us, at least 10 of us,” a man told AFP, too upset to give his name.
Avtar Singh Khalsa, the man who was going to represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, also lost his life in the attack.
The 52-year-old, who served for 10 years in the Afghan army, is survived by his wife and four kids.
The Indian Embassy in Kabul condemned the attack on Sunday.
“Today’s terrorist attack again underlines the need for united global fight against international terrorism without discrimination and accountability of those who support terrorists in any manner,” the statement said.