Bomber kills 19; Taliban rejects cease-fire extension
A suicide bomber struck in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 19 people in the second attack in as many days targeting Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians celebrating a holiday cease-fire. The Taliban later rejected an extension of the cease-fire.
Najibullah Kamawal, director of the provincial health department, said an additional 60 people were wounded in the attack, which struck a crowd of people as they left the governor’s compound.
Saturday’s attack, which also took place in Jalalabad, killed at least 36 people and wounded 65, according to Kamawal, director of the provincial health department.
No one has claimed the attacks, but they appeared to be the work of the Islamic State group, which is not included in the cease-fire and has clashed with the Taliban in the past. The IS affiliate has a strong presence in the province.
After the attack, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a nine-day extension of the cease-fire.
The chairman of the High Peace Council, a government body charged with negotiating an end to the nearly 17-year war, called on the Taliban to accept the extended cease-fire and join the peace process.
But later Sunday, the Taliban announced that their cease-fire had ended and they had no intention of extending it. “The cease-fire was announced by the Taliban for just the three days of the Eid holidays, which have come to an end this Sunday evening,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
The Taliban’s statement added that their cease-fire was for their fighters to celebrate the holiday peacefully and not in response to the government’s cease-fire announcement.