June 17, 2018
A bomb attack has killed at least 32 people in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar amid an announcement by the Taliban militants that they would not extend their temporary ceasefire with Afghan security forces and that fighting would resume in the crisis-hit country.
The deadly explosion occurred outside the governor’s office in the provincial capital Jalalabad on Sunday, reported Afghanistan’s Tolo News channel, citing Najibullah Kamawal, the head of the provincial health department.
The huge blast, which also inflicted injuries upon 45 others, took place after a terrorist detonated his explosives vest in the police district one (PD1) of the city at around 3:00 p.m. local time, Kamawal added.
According to Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, all the victims were civilians.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it has the hallmark of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for a similar attack in the same province a day earlier.
The Saturday attack, which was carried out in Rodat district, some 25 kilometers from Jalalabad, killed at least 36 people and wounded 65 others. Reports said that civilians, security forces and Taliban members were among the casualties as people had gathered to celebrate the second day of Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Taliban reject truce extension
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of Taliban, said the outfit would not extend its unprecedented three-day ceasefire with Afghan security forces.
“The ceasefire ends tonight and our operations will begin. We have no intention to extend the ceasefire,” he said on Sunday, a day after Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced the extension of the week-long period of truce with the militant group until an unspecified time.
Mujahid, however, made no reference to Ghani’s announcement.
The truce would last “from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid al-Fitr,” Ghani said in a posting on Twitter from an official account, indicating it could run from June 12 to 19.
On June 9, Taliban announced in a statement that it had agreed to the truce deal proposed by the Afghan government.
Taliban said foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and operations would resume against them, adding that they would “strongly defend” themselves against any attack. Taliban militants themselves, however, announced a truce of their own starting on Friday.
Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end when the United States and its allies invaded the country on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. Taliban has been involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan security forces and displacing tens of thousands of people across the country ever since.
Daesh has also taken advantage of the ongoing chaos in Afghanistan to establish a foothold in the country and recruited some of its members from among Taliban defectors. As a result, Taliban and Daesh have frequently fought each other in Nangarhar and elsewhere.
According to Afghan intelligence documents, security officials believe Daesh is present in nine provinces, from Nangarhar and Kunar in the east to Jawzjan, Faryab and Badakhshan in the north and Ghor in the central west. The terrorist outfit, which has become notorious for its brutality, began establishing a notable presence in Afghanistan almost a year after making sweeping land grabs in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The Takfiri group has stepped up its acts of terror in the war-torn country in the wake of the loss of its bases in Iraq and Syria despite the presence of thousands of US-led foreign troops on Afghan soil.