BFF-48 Blast rocks Afghan city killing at least 12

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Blast rocks Afghan city killing at least 12

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, July 1, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – An explosion in a city in
eastern Afghanistan where President Ashraf Ghani was visiting killed at least
12 people, officials said Sunday, in the latest deadly violence to rock the
country.

Provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said a suicide bomber
struck a market, killing at least 12 people and wounding 20.

Khogyani told AFP that 10 Afghan Sikhs were among the dead.

The death toll was confirmed by interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish,
adding the assault was “most probably” carried out by a suicide bomber.

“I can confirm there are some Afghan Hindus among the wounded and we are
checking if they are among the fatalities,” Danish told AFP.

Afghans often use the word Hindus even when talking about Sikhs. Small
communities of both faiths reside in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly
Muslim nation.

Provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal put the death toll at 15.

Afghan officials often give conflicting information in the immediate
aftermath of attacks.

Ghani’s spokesman confirmed the president was still in Nangarhar but was
“away from danger”.

Ghani arrived in Jalalabad earlier Sunday to open a hospital, part of a
two-day visit to the restive province.

The attack came a day after Ghani ordered Afghan security forces to resume
offensive operations against the Taliban following the expiration of the
government’s 18-day ceasefire.

The government’s unilateral truce overlapped with the Taliban’s three-day
ceasefire for Eid, but the militants refused to prolong it.

The unprecedented ceasefire over the holiday capping Ramadan triggered
spontaneous street celebrations involving Taliban fighters and security
forces.

But it was marred by two suicide attacks in Nangarhar that killed dozens
of people and were claimed by the Islamic State group, which has a smaller
but relatively potent presence in Afghanistan.

IS was not part of the ceasefire.

The attack comes as US envoy Alice Wells visits Kabul as part of efforts to
ratchet up pressure on the Taliban to engage in peace talks.

The Taliban have so far ignored Ghani’s offer of peace negotiations.
Instead, they have insisted on direct talks with the United States, which
Washington has repeatedly refused.

Wells said that since the Afghan government and United States were willing
to start talking without preconditions, the onus was now on the Taliban to
respond.

“Right now it’s the Taliban leaders… who aren’t residing in Afghanistan,
who are the obstacle to a negotiated political settlement,” Wells said in
remarks embargoed until Sunday.

Wells, who is due to hold talks in Pakistan on Monday, said Islamabad also
needed to do more to squeeze the Taliban and get them to the negotiating
table.

BSS/AFP/SSS/2007 hrs