Jalalabad (Afghanistan): A suicide bomber targeted a police checkpoint Thursday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing at least 11 people and wounding 13 others, an official said.
The Afghan arm of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was committed by an assailant on foot, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province. There was at least one child among the fatalities, while three others were wounded.
The area around Jalalabad is home to fighters from both the Taliban and the IS group’s Afghan affiliate. Last month, three blasts in rapid succession in the center of Jalalabad left three people dead and 20 wounded.
Until then, this city near the border with Pakistan had largely been spared from attacks and fighting, mainly with IS, in far-flung parts of the surrounding province.
46 killed, nearly 150 injured in Taliban suicide attack at mosque in high-security zone in Pakistan’s Peshawar
However, in March, at least 16 civilians were killed in a suicide bombing followed by gunfire targeting a construction company near the city’s airport. The Taliban said they were not behind that attack. A wave of violence across Afghanistan in recent weeks has claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and security forces.
After 18 years of conflict, the Taliban are in negotiations with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for some sort of peace settlement. A resolution still seems far off, with the two sides struggling to agree on several key points.
Khalilzad is in the country now meeting with political leaders and members of civil society in the hope of launching intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban. The EU envoy for Afghanistan, Roland Kobia, is also here to support the process.
In a gesture of goodwill, the government announced Thursday it has released 490 Taliban prisoners who are ill or have less than a year left to serve.
They are among 887 prisoners that President Ashraf Ghani promised to free in early June as he marked the end of Ramadan. Khalilzad is due to travel to Qatar in coming days for a new round of talks with the Taliban.
The goal of the negotiations is to set a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for a Taliban pledge to keep the country from being used as a staging ground for terror attacks.