Monday 23 October 2017

Islamic State claim responsibility for Afghan bomb attack

People run for cover after an explosion in Jalalabad killed 33 people Credit: REUTERS/Parwiz
People run for cover after an explosion in Jalalabad killed 33 people Credit: REUTERS/Parwiz
An Afghan security forces inspect at the site of suicide attack near to new Kabul Bank in Jalalabad Credit: AP

Harriet Alexander

A suicide bomber that killed 33 people queuing outside a bank in Jalalabad in what is thought to be the first terrorist attack in Afghanistan carried out by Islamic State.

Government employees were targeted in yesterday's attack - the worst in Afghanistan since November - which was thought to have been carried out by a suicide bomber on a bicycle or motorbike.

Another blast took place near a shrine and municipality buildings, and bomb disposal experts detonated a third explosive device.

Smoke billowed from the building and windows were shattered in the blast, which left people lying in pools of blood and body parts scattered across the ground.

Dr Najeebullah Kamawal, head of the provincial hospital, said that over 100 people were injured in the bomb – among them many children.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that his group was not behind the "evil" attack.  

Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, condemned the attack and said Islamic State had claimed responsibility.

"Carrying out terrorist attacks in cities and public places are the most cowardly acts of terror by terrorists targeting innocent civilians," he said, on a visit to northeastern Badakhshan province.

"Who claimed responsibility for horrific attack? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh (Isil) claimed responsibility for the attack."

Last month Mr Ghani had used a visit to the White House to announce that ISIS had already sent "advance guards" to his country, and warn of impending attacks.

An ISIS spokesperson, Shahidullah Shahid, claimed responsibility online, and identified the suicide bomber as Abu Muhammed Khurasani.

Shahid is among a number of former Taliban leaders and groups that have declared their allegiance to Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi, the self-styled Caliph of Isil, which has overrun parts of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS published an image of Khurasani, kneeling before its banner and with a Kalashnikov beside him, reading what looked like a suicide note.   

An email from the group reportedly confirmed the claim, and boasted of "sending 75 government servants to hell."

The explosion would mark the first time that the group has carried out a terrorist assault inside Afghanistan.

In September the group published leaflets claiming that Pakistan and Afghanistan formed part of their territory.

A Taliban fighter in Afghanistan told the BBC at the time that many of his organisation were considering throwing their support behind ISIS.

"We are waiting to see if they meet the requirements for an Islamic caliphate," said Commander Mirwais. "We are sure that our leadership will announce their allegiance to them. They are great mujahideen."   

The Taliban have now seen a series of defections to Islamic State in recent months, with some insurgents voicing their disaffection with their one-eyed supreme leader Mullah Omar, who has not been seen since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Saturday's attack now means that the group is active in Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan – as well as the territory they control in Syria and Iraq.

Nigeria's Islamists, Boko Haram, announced their allegiance to ISIS in March – but most analysts dismissed that as empty posturing.

Abu Muhammed Khurasani Credit: aboanasmujahid
Abu Muhammed Khurasani Credit: aboanasmujahid

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