Monday July 22, 2024

First-ever IS suicide attack in Afghanistan kills 35

President Ghani says Taliban deny involvement in bombing; Nawaz,FO condemn bloody incident; Afghan Taliban, LI condemn Jalalabad bombing

By our correspondents
April 19, 2015
KABUL: The Islamic State (IS) group claimed to have carried out a deadly suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday that killed at least 35 people and injured more than 100, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, in what, if verified, would be the first major attack claimed by the jihadist group in the country. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the Foreign Office Saturday strongly condemned the bomb blast in Jalalabad which resulted in dozens of casualties.
“Who claimed responsibility for the horrific attack in Nangarhar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack,” President Ghani said on a visit to northeastern Badakhshan province.
A person purporting to be an IS spokesman said in a call to AFP that the group claimed responsibility for the bombing outside a bank in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. An online posting allegedly from the group made the same claim, which could not be immediately verified.
“Thirty-three bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to the hospital,” Dr Najeebullah Kamawal, head of the provincial hospital said.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a provincial government spokesman, confirmed the attack — the deadliest since November. “The explosion happened outside the bank when government employees and civilians were collecting their monthly salaries,” he said.
The UN gave a higher toll, saying 35 people had been killed.
“Carrying out terrorist attacks in cities and public places are the most cowardly acts of terror by terrorists targeting innocent civilians,” President Ghani said.
The scene of the attack showed the gruesome scale of the carnage with people lying in pools of blood and body parts scattered across the ground.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility.
The militants have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets since Washington back-pedalled on plans to shrink the US force in Afghanistan this year by nearly half.
The Taliban have seen defections to IS in recent months, with some insurgents voicing their disaffection with their one-eyed supreme leader Mulla Omar, who has not been seen since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The Afghan government has also raised the ominous prospect of IS making inroads into the country, though the group that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan. – AFP
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir adds from Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while offering condolences and condemning Jalalabad blast of Saturday has said that terrorism is a common enemy of both Pakistan and Afghanistan which are now taking joint steps to get rid of the menace.
He issued a strongly worded condemnation of the bomb blast in Jalalabad which resulted in the killing of more than 35 innocent citizens including children.
Prime Minister Nawaz in his statement extended condolences on this tragic incident and he has said that terrorism is a common enemy of both the countries which are now taking joint steps to eliminate it. “Such acts of violence would not weaken our resolve to take action against them till the last of the terrorists and their supporters are exterminated,” the premier said.
He was hopeful that terrorism would soon be wiped out of this region, ushering in an era of peace, stability and prosperity to the immense benefit of the people living in the region. He said that Pakistan targeted the terrorists in their hideouts and dismantled their networks with an effective strategy. Pakistan would be happy to provide any assistance to Afghanistan to successfully fight terrorism, the premier added.
The Foreign Office (FO) in a separate statement has maintained that Pakistan condemns the deadly terrorist attack in Jalalabad on Saturday morning in which many precious lives were lost and a large number were injured.
“Such cowardly and indiscriminate attacks against civilians have no justification under any circumstances. We send our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” the FO added.
Our Peshawar bureau adds: The Afghan Taliban movement and the Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-i-Islam (LI), have condemned the suicide bombing in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan that killed 35 persons on Saturday.
Through its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Afghan Taliban distanced itself from the suicide attack and two other smaller bomb explosions in Jalalabad on Saturday and criticised attacks that caused harm to civilians.
The condemnation of the Jalalabad suicide bombing by the Afghan Taliban was understandable as the claim for responsibility was made by the Islamic State, or Daesh, which has emerged as a rival to the Mulla Mohammad Omar-led Afghan Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Some Afghan Taliban fighters have joined the Islamic State in Afghanistan, but an overwhelming majority of Taliban is still loyal to Mulla Omar.
The Lashkar-i-Islam, headed by one of the most wanted militants Mangal Bagh and operating mainly in Khyber Agency, also condemned the Jalalabad suicide bombing. The banned group’s spokesman, Salahuddin Ayubi, called reporters from an undisclosed location to denounce “this cowardly attack as it targeted innocent civilians.”
He said Lashkar-i-Islam was opposed to the Islamic State and had no concern or alliance with it or its affiliates.
The Islamic State’s spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, who was earlier the spokesman of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the Jalalabad bombing. It was the first attack by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. The group had earlier conducted its first attack in Pakistan’s Orakzai Agency.