Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, April 18, 2015
Suicide bombing kills 33, injures more than 100 in Afghanistan; president blames ISIL (PHOTOS)
Meanwhile, another bombing in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province killed one civilian and wounded two others
A suicide bomb attack on a bank branch in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad killed at least 33 people on Saturday, with the country’s president blaming the violence on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
"In the horrific incident in Nangarhar [province], who took responsibility? The Taliban didn't claim responsibility. Daesh claimed responsibility for it,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, using an Arabic-language acronym for ISIL. If confirmed, the attack would mark a major escalation in activities for the armed group, whose base of operations has largely been restricted to Syria and Iraq.
One local report had previously said the Pakistani Taliban had also claimed responsibility, but that could not be verified.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar province, said 105 people were also wounded in the attack in Afghanistan’s second-largest city.
The attacker detonated an explosive-laden motorcycle, targeting a crowd of military personnel and civilians who were gathered outside the bank to receive their monthly salaries. The bank branch is in the heart of a crowded commercial district, full of banks and government offices, Abdulzai said.
The force of the blast shattered windows miles away and damaged several businesses and cars in the vicinity. Security forces blocked off the area to allow ambulances and rescue crews to care for the wounded.
"More than 100 wounded and around 33 dead bodies have been brought to the hospital," said Dr. Hamayon Zaheer, head of Jalalabad hospital.
Shir Aqha, an Afghan army soldier who was being treated for wounds suffered in the attack, said he had received his salary from the bank and was still in the area when the blast took place.
"A motorcycle came in and I think a man in a suit entered inside the crowd and detonated his explosive. I heard two sounds of explosions and I can't remember after that," he said.
Another blast was reported Saturday near a shrine in Jalalabad, but no one was immediately reported to have been hurt. A third blast was also heard in Jalalabad, but it was later reported as a controlled explosion by the Afghan army in Nangarhar, Abdulzai said.
Meanwhile, another bombing in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province killed one civilian and wounded two others, Abdulzai said, adding that it appeared that a magnetic bomb was attached to a parked car and then detonated by remote control.
The Pakistani government, which is coordinating with Afghanistan on counter-terrorism issues, condemned the Saturday attacks. A statement released by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry called the bombings cowardly and indiscriminate, and said attacks against civilians have no justification under any circumstances.
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