A suicide bomber has detonated an explosive device near a police vehicle in the capital of eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, killing at least three officers and six civilians, a health official has said.
Another 13 people were wounded, some of them seriously, in the attack in Jalalabad on Thursday, according to Shoaib Sahak, a provincial health department official.
Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said security forces were the target of the attack. Several of the wounded were police officers, he added.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq website.
Afghan forces have suffered major casualties in recent years, even as the Taliban hold peace talks with the United States envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
Khalilzad is currently in Afghanistan‘s capital, Kabul, trying to restart stalled peace talks aimed at ending the country’s 18-year war and the US’s longest-running military engagement.
The Taliban has held talks with prominent Afghans, including former President Hamid Karzai and members of opposition political parties, but so far they have refused to hold direct discussions with members of the Afghan government, calling them US puppets.
Late on Wednesday, the Afghan government freed 490 Taliban prisoners from jails across the country in a goodwill gesture that was also an attempt to further the peace process.
The freed Taliban fighters were either ailing or had less than a year remaining on their prison sentence, Feroz Bashari, government media centre chief, told The Associated Press news agency on Thursday.
They were part of a group of 887 inmates that President Ashraf Ghani ordered freed to mark the Eid-al-Fitr holiday that followed the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan earlier in June, he said.
It was not immediately known when the remaining prisoners would be released.