Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Death toll from Afghanistan blast rises to 68

An Afghan wounded boy receives treatment at a hospital following multiple explosions in Jalalabad on Tuesday. — AFP An Afghan wounded boy receives treatment at a hospital following multiple explosions in Jalalabad on Tuesday. — AFP
Patty Aguilar | 13 September, 2018, 06:20

The death toll from a massive suicide attack on Afghan protesters in the Nangarhar province mounted to 68, officials confirmed on Wednesday. The casualty toll increased overnight as a number of critically wounded protesters died from their injuries.

The bombing happened when a group from the district of Achin came to Momandara district to block the main highway between the capital Jalalabad and the Torkham border with Pakistan.

The men had been protesting over the appointment of a local police chief, provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said.

Khogyani said the victims were staging a protest in the Daka village to demand the dismissal of a local police commander when the bomber hit them.

The blast scattered the crowd numbering hundreds of people, but more gathered after the explosion to continue the protest.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.

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He concluded in the statement that 'this is the first time that I am hearing about these accusations almost two decades later. It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm'.

In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the suicide attack against the demonstrators and the bomb blasts near the schools, saying that "attacks on civilian facilities, mosques, women, children, are all crimes against humanity".

The violence follows recent diplomatic efforts to end the lengthy war between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Nangarhar, one of the main strongholds of Islamic State militant 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.

The twin blasts took place an hour after a bomb exploded outside Biba Hawa girls' school in nearby Behsood district, Jalalabad education department spokesman Asif Shinwari said.

In the northern province of Sar-e Pul, hundreds of armed men assembled to boost the city's defences as security forces fought to push the Taliban back from the city centre, said Zabihullah Amani, the provincial governor's spokesman.

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