18 killed, 49 injured in Afghanistan suicide attack

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Kabul, June 17 (IANS) At least 18 people were killed and another 49 injured on Sunday in a suicide attack in the heart of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, a security source said.

Confirming the attack, which took place on the last day of the ceasefire declared by the Taliban marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Nangarhar Provincial Governor’s spokesperson Attaullah Khogyani told Efe that it happened around 3 p.m.

While the source said the attack happened near the Governor’s Palace, or the Shahi Palace, where civil servants and Taliban insurgents were meeting to discuss the ceasefire, Khogyani said that the attack was an at area where there were only civilians.

Images captured by an Epa-Efe photojournalist at the scene showed security officials standing on a bloodied road outside the governor’s offices. Damaged cars were also visible.

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Another suicide attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State terror organization, took place a day before at a place where Taliban militants and civilians had gathered to celebrate the ceasefire, around 15 km from Jalalabad.

That attack killed 25 people and wounded 54 others.

Last week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a unilateral truce after 2,000 religious leaders said that the war in Afghanistan was “illegitimate” and then extended the measure on Saturday for a yet-to-be-determined period.

Two days after Ghani’s announcement, the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire, which was due to expire at midnight.

Nangarhar is the main bastion of the Islamic State terrorist group in Afghanistan.

The country is going through one of its bloodiest phases after the end of a NATO mission in 2015. The Alliance still maintains a presence to train Afghan forces there.

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–IANS

him/vd

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