Tuesday 24 April 2018

At least 13 killed after terror attack at Afghan politician's home

A member of the Afghan security forces stands guard at the site of a suicide attack which took place inside a residential house in Jalalabad (AP)
A member of the Afghan security forces stands guard at the site of a suicide attack which took place inside a residential house in Jalalabad (AP)

At least 13 people have been killed and 14 wounded in a suicide attack at the home of a prominent politician in the increasingly volatile eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The attacker detonated his explosives at the residential compound of Obaidullah Shinwari, a member of Nangarhar's provincial council whose family is active in local and national politics.

His father, Malik Osman, is an influential community elder in the Shinwari district near the Pakistan border who has spoken out against about the presence in the region of the Islamic State group (IS).

Ataullah Khyogani, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial government, said a guesthouse on the compound was crowded with people who had been invited to a family event.

"The number of casualties is likely to increase because there were so many people there," Mr Khyogani said.

Enamullah Miakheil, a spokesman for the Nangarhar Public Health Hospital, said that 13 bodies and 14 wounded people had been brought to the facility.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, saying that as "terrorists lose their ability to fight Afghan forces on the battlefield, they are carrying out terror attacks on residential areas".

The compound is close to the Pakistani consulate, targeted last week in an attack claimed by IS.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack, but a Taliban spokesman posted a message on Twitter denying the group's involvement.

Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, has seen the number of threats and attacks rise in recent months as the presence of IS growns in the region.

Gunmen affiliated with IS have fought fierce battles with the Taliban, with IS taking control of at least four districts on the province's border with Pakistan.

The attack comes a day ahead of a second round of high-level talks aimed at eventually brokering a peace deal between Kabul and the Taliban, who have been fighting for more than 14 years.

The talks will see representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China meet to formulate a roadmap for a dialogue that will eventually, they hope, include Taliban representatives.

The first meeting of the group took place in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on January 11. The Taliban have not been included in these meetings.

The meetings seek to revive a process that was derailed last July after the first and only face-to-face meeting between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Islamabad.

That initiative faltered when Kabul announced that the insurgent group's leader had secretly been dead for more than two years.

Subsequent meetings were cancelled and relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan chilled, as president Ashraf Ghani publicly blamed Pakistan for using the Taliban to wage war on his country.

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