Casualties as ‘suicide bombing’ rocks Afghanistan’s Nangarhar

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At least 20 people have been killed after an explosion struck a gathering attended by Taliban, security forces and civilians in the eastern Afghan city of Nangarhar, according to a local official.

Attaullah Khogyani, the governor’s spokesman for Nangarhar, said the blast on Saturday was caused by a suicide bombing – and not a rocket that had accidentally detonated as it was initially reported.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the apparent suicide attack, which also wounded at least 16 people.

Civilians, security forces and the Taliban were among the casualties in Rodat district – 25km from Jalalabad – as people celebrated the second day of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the month of Ramadan.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the Taliban-linked Haqqani network have also been carrying out attacks in Afghanistan.

Extension of government ceasefire

Also on Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the government’s extension of a ceasefire with the Taliban, without giving a timeframe.

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In a televised address to the nation, Ghani called for the Taliban to also extend the truce, which is due to expire on Sunday after both sides agreed to halt hostilities for Eid.

Ghani also said that in the spirit of Eid and the ceasefire, the attorney general’s office had released 46 Taliban prisoners.

The Taliban had announced a ceasefire for the first three days of Eid, which started on Friday, promising not to attack Afghan security forces for the first time since the 2001 US invasion.

That came after Ghani said that security forces would temporarily cease operations against the Taliban for eight days, starting last Tuesday – though he warned that operations against other fighters, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, would continue.

Governors in Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul said both sides had adhered to the ceasefire.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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