10 people, including 2 spies, killed in suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan

Published 10.07.2018 11:01
Updated 10.07.2018 15:12

A suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan killed at least 12 people on Tuesday, including two intelligence service agents and 10 civilians, authorities said.

The Daesh terror group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said five others, including two security forces and three civilians, were wounded in the attack in Jalalabad, the provincial capital.

The bomber was on foot and targeted the intelligence service, said Khogyani.

"I saw three people who had caught fire and were screaming," Ibrahim, who was sitting inside his shop at the time of the attack, told AFP.

"As I ran to help them, the fire swallowed them. I couldn't help them and I ran to save myself."

Some of the victims were brought to hospital with severe burns, health director Najibullah Kamawal said, confirming the casualty toll.

"I saw a big ball of fire that threw people away. The people were burning," Esmatullah, who witnessed the incident, told AFP.

Haji Ali Khan told AFP he counted at least eight cars alight and "seven people who had been burned in the fire".

Tolo News posted a video online showing several burned-out vehicles and gutted shops purportedly at the scene of the attack.

In western Farah province, Taliban fighters attacked police checkpoints, killing three police, said Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Four other police were wounded in the gun battle that took place late Monday in Bala Buluk district, he said.

Mehri said at least five Taliban insurgents were killed and seven others were wounded.

Taliban did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack but they have claimed responsibility for previous attacks in the province.

Daesh has claimed a series of high-casualty suicide bomb attacks in the province in recent weeks, as U.S. and Afghan forces continue offensive operations against the group.

While the Taliban is Afghanistan's largest militant group, Daesh has a relatively small but potent presence, mainly in the east and north of the country.

Violence to continue

Tuesday's attack comes a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed "hope" for peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban, during an unannounced visit to Kabul.

Pompeo's first trip to Afghanistan since he was sworn in as America's top diplomat in April came amid renewed optimism for peace in the war-weary country, following last month's unprecedented ceasefire by the Taliban and Kabul during Eid.

The Islamic holiday was marked by spontaneous street celebrations involving Afghan security forces and Taliban militants, raising hopes peace was possible after 17 years of war.

"An element of the progress is the capacity that we now have to believe that there is now hope," Pompeo told a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"Many of the Taliban now see that they can't win on the ground militarily," he said.

The ceasefire did not extend to the Daesh franchise in Afghanistan, which first emerged in the country in 2014 and established a stronghold in Nangarhar before spreading north.

Violence is expected to continue ahead of Afghanistan's long-delayed legislative elections on October 20 that militants have vowed to disrupt.

Afghan security forces, already struggling to beat back the Taliban and Daesh on the battlefield, will be responsible for protecting polling stations, many of which will be located in schools.

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