Kabul: A suicide bomb and gun attack by militants on an Afghanistan government building in Jalalabad on Tuesday killed at least 15 people, some burned “beyond recognition”, officials said, the latest in a series of assaults on the eastern city. On the other side of the country, a roadside bomb apparently intended for security forces hit a passenger bus and killed 11 people, marking yet another bloody day for civilians who have borne the brunt of violence across the country.
The attack in Jalalabad targeted the compound of the refugees and repatriations department. It ended after more than five hours of intense fighting between militants and security forces, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province. Such attacks often end up inflicting significant casualties among civilians. The latest report by the United Nations said the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in the first half of this year increased by 1%, compared to the same period in 2017. The UN mission in Afghanistan said the number – 1,692 killed by violence – is the highest 6-month death toll since the systematic documentation of civilian casualties started in 2009.
Since the US and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, a resurgent Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country that have claimed scores of civilian lives.
Reason behind attack not clear
Most of the attacks in Jalalabad have been claimed by IS, which has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan, It is not clear why the militants targeted the government department, officials said.
- 300 Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack on the city of Farah in May.
- 25 Government troops were killed in the fighting.
Next Presidential polls on April 20
- Afghanistan will hold its next presidential polls on April 20 next year, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced on Tuesday. The IEC said these elections will be held six months after the October parliamentary polls.
- Candidates will not be registered until November, but manoeuvring among potential contenders and their allies is already underway and President Ashraf Ghani himself is widely expected to run for a second five-year term. The last presidential poll in 2014 produced no clear winner after a massive electoral fraud.