POST TIME: 2 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Afghan city blast kills at least 12

Afghan city blast kills
at least 12

An explosion in a city in eastern Afghanistan where President Ashraf Ghani was visiting killed at least 12 people, officials said yesterday, in the latest deadly violence to rock the country, reports AFP from Jalalabad. Provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said a suicide bomber struck a market, killing at least 12 people and wounding 20. Khogyani told AFP that 10 Afghan Sikhs were among the dead.

The death toll was confirmed by interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish, adding the assault was "most probably" carried out by a suicide bomber.

"I can confirm there are some Afghan Hindus among the wounded and we are checking if they are among the fatalities," Danish told AFP.

Afghans often use the word Hindus even when talking about Sikhs. Small communities of both faiths reside in what is otherwise an over whelmingly Muslim nation.

Provincial health director

Najibullah Kamawal put the death toll at 15.

Afghan officials often give conflicting information in the immediate aftermath of attacks.

Ghani's spokesman confirmed 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 restive province.

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.

The government's unilateral truce overlapped with the Taliban's three-day ceasefire for Eid, but the militants refused to prolong it.

The unprecedented ceasefire over the holiday capping Ramadan triggered spontaneous street celebrations involving Taliban fighters and security forces.

But it was marred by two suicide attacks in Nangarhar that killed dozens of people and were claimed by the Islamic State group, which has a smaller but relatively potent presence in Afghanistan. IS was not part of the ceasefire. The attack comes as US envoy Alice Wells visits Kabul as part of efforts to ratchet up pressure on the Taliban to engage in peace talks.

The Taliban have so far ignored Ghani's offer of peace negotiations. Instead, they have insisted on direct talks with the United States, which Washington has repeatedly refused.