Afghan official: Death toll in suicide bombing rises to 68

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said 165 others were wounded in the attack a day earlier. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Afghan official: Death toll in suicide bombing rises to 68

  • Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said 165 others were wounded in the attack a day earlier
  • Both Taliban insurgents and Daesh are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar province

KABUL, Afghanistan: The death toll in a suicide bombing among a group of people protesting a local police commander in eastern Afghanistan has risen to 68, up from 32, provincial officials Wednesday.
Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said 165 others were wounded in the attack a day earlier.
The bombing happened when a group from the district of Achin came to Momandara district to block the main highway between the capital Jalalabad and the Torkham border with Pakistan.
The Taliban denied any involvement. No any other group immediately claimed responsibility, but both Taliban insurgents and Daesh are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar province.
A local affiliate of Daesh has emerged in recent years and carried out brazen and increasingly deadly attacks, most often targeting civilians and the country's minority Shiite Muslims, who it views as apostates. The Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate are enemies and have attacked each other's forces.
Both the Taliban and Daeshcarry out near-daily attacks in Afghanistan targeting security forces and government officials.
Tuesday's attack was marked by one of the highest death tolls in attacks in Afghanistan this year. In January, a Taliban-claimed suicide bombing in the capital Kabul killed at least 103.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the suicide attack against the demonstrators in Nangarhar. In a statement he said that "attacks on civilian facilities, mosques, women, children, are all crimes against humanity."


India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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India and Afghanistan review their strategic partnership

  • Afghan, Indian leaders “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership”
  • The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

NEW DELHI: India and Afghanistan reviewed bilateral civil and military cooperation during a one day of meetings in  New Delhi on Wednesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which the two sides “reviewed and positively assessed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership.”

A press release from the Indian Prime Minister’s office announced after the meeting: “It was agreed to deepen the New Development Partnership in the areas of high impact projects in this field of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity-building projects in Afghanistan.” 

 The two countries also decided “to strengthen connectivity, including through Chabahar port and the air-freight corridor.”

 “I would like to thank the Indian people for their commitment to Afghanistan's future,” Ghani said in a speech in New Delhi before leaving for Kabul.

“What India-Afghanistan share is deep and binding trust in democratic institutions,” he added.

Modi supported an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process” and pledged “India's unwavering commitment to support the efforts of the government of Afghanistan to this end, as also for the security and sovereignty of Afghanistan.”

 “Peace with the Taliban is important so that we can concentrate on counter-terrorism. The Taliban is part of Afghan society, ISIS (using another term for the terror group Daesh) is not. We must make that distinction,” Ghani said in his address at the New Delhi-based think tank, India Foundation.

 Commenting on Ghani’s visit, Vishal Chandra of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), a New Delhi-based think tank, said: “The timing of the visit is significant; he has come at a time when the Afghan forces are under great pressure from the Taliban and Daesh.” He added that Ghani was looking for wider regional support in initiatives to stem the rising tide of terrorism.

Talking to Arab News, Chandra underlined that “there is no question of India involving itself militarily in Afghanistan, but it might step up its efforts to ensure that they have better air capability and they don’t have shortage of ammunition. I don’t expect India to supply heavy weaponry.”

Harsh V. Pant, director of the think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said: “Despite India scaling up its presence in the defence sector, New Delhi’s military presence in Afghanistan is limited.

“The appetite in India for military involvement is very small; there is no consensus about the military footprints New Delhi should have in Afghanistan. But there is a consensus that New Delhi’s security cooperation with Kabul should be extended and should be robust and that is what India is doing.” 

In his book “India’s Afghanistan Muddle” Pant argued that “India cannot evolve its equity in Afghanistan unless some form of military involvement happens.”

Pant told Arab News: “The visit of Ghani at this time is a sign of a certain maturity in the relationship where Afghanistan feels that India should be kept in a loop. The relationship has grown to an extent that two sides are comfortable with each other in sharing assessment about where the political trajectory is going.”