Monday, 16 July 2018

At least 20 dead in Afghanistan suicide attack during ceasefire

KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Afghan Taliban, security forces, and civilians celebrating an unprecedented ceasefire in the war-torn country on Saturday, killing at least 20 people, officials said.

The attack came as President Ashraf Ghani announced an extension of the government’s week-long ceasefire with the militant group after both sides agreed to halt hostilities for Eid.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast that also wounded at least 16 others marking the suspension of fighting in Rodat district of Nangarhar province, but an Afghan security source told AFP that the Islamic State group was to blame.

“A suicide bomber detonated among people, security forces and Taliban who were celebrating the ceasefire,” provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.

He said at least 20 people had been killed and 16 others wounded. Provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal confirmed the death toll but said 25 wounded had been taken to hospital.

Ghani made his announcement in a rare televised address to the nation, in which he also asked the Taliban to extend their three-day ceasefire which is due to end Sunday.

“I order the security forces to remain on their defensive positions,” Ghani said, adding details of the extension would be released later.

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