Dozens of casualties in Afghanistan
suicide attack as violence flares
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[September 11, 2018]
By Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Ahmad Sultan
KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomber in
Afghanistan killed about 20 people and wounded dozens on Tuesday at a
gathering on the highway between the eastern city of Jalalabad and the
main border crossing into neighboring Pakistan, officials said.
The blast, less than a week after a suicide attack that killed more than
20 people in the capital, Kabul, came as violence has flared across
Afghanistan, with heavy fighting in northern provinces over recent days.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which the
provincial governor's office said killed at least 19 people and wounded
57 more, although the total remains unclear, amid conflicting official
Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the Nangarhar provincial council, said at
least 30 bodies had been taken to hospital, but the toll could rise.
The violence has dampened hopes of peace talks to end the 17-year
conflict in Afghanistan but on Tuesday, two Taliban officials told
Reuters the movement was preparing for another meeting with U.S.
officials following one in July.
As yet, there is little sign yet of Afghanistan becoming more secure and
stable before a parliamentary election next month and a presidential
election in April.
Nangarhar, one of the main strongholds of Islamic State fighters since
early 2015, has been one of the most volatile regions this year, with a
string of suicide bombings and attacks on its capital, Jalalabad.
Officials and elders said Tuesday's attack targeted a gathering to
protest against a local police commander, adding that hundreds of people
were present when the blast happened.
Qaderi said rescue efforts were being hampered by reports of another
suicide bomber in the area, making police and emergency services
cautious about approaching the scene.
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The explosion followed a series of smaller blasts on Tuesday that
targeted schools in Jalalabad and surrounding districts, killing at
least one person and wounding three.
In the northern province of Sar-e Pul, hundreds of armed men assembled
to boost the city's defenses as security forces fought to push the
Taliban back from the city center, said Zabihullah Amani, the provincial
There were no reports of U.S. strikes in Sar-e Pul on Tuesday but there
were three strikes on Monday, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan
said in an emailed statement.
Two air strikes in Baghlan province on Tuesday followed six the day
before and American advisers were on the ground supporting Afghan
troops, the spokesman added.
Ghulam Mohammad Balkhi, deputy spokesman for the Afghan army's 209
Corps, said at least 30 Taliban fighters were killed in the joint
(Additional reporting by Ahmad Sultan, Rafiq Sherzad, Abdul Matin Sahak;
Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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