Suicide attack in Afghanistan's Nangarhar kills at least 18

At least 18 people die in Jalalabad, a day after suicide bomber kills 36 at an Eid gathering in Nangarhar province.

    The explosion took place outside the regional governor's office in Jalalabad [Reuters]
    The explosion took place outside the regional governor's office in Jalalabad [Reuters]

    An explosion in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar has killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens, according to officials.

    The blast on Sunday outside the regional governor's office in Jalalabad city came just a day after a suicide bomber killed at least 36 peopleincluding civilians, government forces and Taliban fighters, at an Eid gathering in the same province.

    No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack but the one on Saturday was claimed by the local affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

    Najibullah Kamawal, Nangarhar provincial health director, put the death toll from Sunday's blast at 18 with 49 wounded.

    "Some of the wounded are in a serious condition," Kamawal added, suggesting the death toll could rise.

    Separately on Sunday, the Taliban ruled out an extension of a ceasefire agreement with Afghanistan's government that was due to end in the evening.

    The two sides had agreed to stop operations against one another for the Muslim holiday of Eid, which started on Friday.

    On Saturday, Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani announced the extension of the truce without specifying an end date and called on the Taliban to do the same.

    Ghani also said that in the spirit of Eid and the ceasefire, the attorney general's office had released 46 Taliban prisoners.

    ISIL foothold

    The possibility of a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban comes as ISIL establishes its presence in the country.

    Omar Samad, a former adviser to the chief executive of Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera that the suicide bombing on Saturday was a reminder to everyone in the country, including the Taliban, of the "existentialist threat on our doorstep".

    "What we saw today is a reminder that ISK (the ISIL branch in Afghanistan) is a potent threat, that something needs to be done about it," Samad said, speaking from Washington, DC.

    "Maybe the Taliban and the Afghan government can come to terms on how to deal with the Islamic State," he added.

    "That could be an historic point for maybe a dialogue between the two sides. If that happens then I think that Afghanistan has better days ahead."

    The Taliban's decision to hold a ceasefire with the government was the first time it had reached such an agreement since the 2001 invasion of the country by a US-led coalition.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, echoing Ghani's announcement on Saturday, said peace talks would have to include a discussion on the role of "international actors and forces".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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