A sequence of bombings struck restaurants and public squares in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Monday, hurting at least 34 people, officials said, as the country marked the 100th anniversary of its independence.
No group claimed responsibility for the 10 bombs; but both, ‘the militant Islamic State’ (IS) group and the ‘Afghan Taliban militants operate in the area.’
The IS claimed responsibility for a weekend bomb attack on a wedding reception in the capital, Kabul, in which 63 people were slayed and nearly 200 injured.
The Jalalabad bombs were planted near a market where hundreds of people had congregated after attending Independence Day events. Senior health official Fahim Bashari said at least 34 people were wounded.
In a statement, The Foreign Office, condemned the bombings and termed them as “cowardly”.
“These cowardly attacks manifest the desperation of terrorist outfits and spoilers as hopes for peace, stability and national unity in Afghanistan have grown stronger by the day.”
Pakistan would continue its “steadfast partnership” with Afghanistan in “mutual efforts to defeat all designs aimed at perpetuating instability in the region,” the Foreign Office further said.
Afghan president vows to continue fight against IS
President Ashraf Ghani, in an Independence Day address in Kabul, called on the international community to stand with Afghanistan to eliminate the militants’ “nests”.
He said, referring to IS, “Our fight against the Daesh will continue.”
“The Taliban have laid the foundation for such brutal killings.”
The US also wants a commitment from the Afghan Taliban on power-sharing talks with Ghani’s government and a ceasefire. The Afghan Talibans have refused to talk to the government.
Ghani did not refer in his speech to negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban on a deal by which US troops can withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.
But there are disquiets among Afghan officials and US national security aides about a withdrawal, with fears that Afghanistan could be plunged into a new civil war that could herald a return of Taliban rule and international militants, including IS, finding a shelter.
Trump on Sunday called the Kabul bomb attack horrible and conveyed optimism about the talks.
US President Donald Trump is hoping to withdraw all of America’s troops from Afghanistan before the 2020 presidential election.
The US troops in Afghanistan train and advise Afghan security forces and conduct counterinsurgency operations.
Trump said the US would seek to get troop levels below 13,000 but leave “very significant” intelligence capabilities behind.
“In an Independence Day statement they were looking forward to the departure of all foreign forces” the Afghan Taliban said.
“The day comes closer when these invaders shall completely leave our country, akin to the British and Soviets before them,” they said.
Afghanistan gained complete independence from Britain on Aug 19, 1919, while never part of the British Empire.
The government said “The Independence Day ceremonies in Kabul were curtailed out of respect for those who died in the Saturday night bomb”.