Jalalabad: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a city in eastern Afghanistan where President Ashraf Ghani was visiting, killing at least 19 people, many of them Sikhs, officials said, in the latest violence to rock the country.
The attacker struck a market located hundreds of metres from the provincial governor’s compound where Ghani was holding meetings, governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.
Among the 19 dead were 12 Sikhs and Hindus, he told AFP. Another 20 people were wounded. There were scenes of anguish at the hospital where grieving relatives wept and hugged each other as they waited for news of their loved ones.
“It is over for us, we are finished, they have massacred us, at least 10 of us,” a man told AFP, too upset to give his name.
Provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal confirmed 19 people had been killed, the majority of them Sikhs. Small communities of Sikhs and Hindus reside in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly Muslim nation. It is not clear if they were the intended target of the attack.
Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed a suicide bomber carried out the attack — the latest in a series of recent deadly assaults in the restive province.
Ghani’s spokesman said the president was still in Nangarhar but was “away from danger”. Ghani arrived in Jalalabad earlier Sunday to open a hospital, part of a two-day visit to the province bordering Pakistan.
The attack came a day after Ghani ordered Afghan security forces to resume offensive operations against the Taliban following the expiration of the government’s 18-day ceasefire. (AFP)