Afghanistan attack claims over 25 lives

KABUL: A bomber in Afghanistan killed at least 25 people at a gathering on Tuesday on the highway between the eastern city of Jalalabad and the main border crossing into neighbouring Pakistan, officials said. The blast, less than a week after a suicide attack killed more than 20 people in the capital, Kabul, came as violence has flared across the nation, with heavy fighting in northern provinces. Officials have warned violence is likely to intensify ahead of parliamentary elections next month and a presidential election in April. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, although the Taliban issued a statement denying involvement.

At least 25 bodies were taken to hospitals but the final total was unclear and could rise, said Inamullah Miakhel, a spokesman for the provincial health department. Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the Nangarhar provincial council, said at least 56 bodies were taken to hospital, with 43 more wounded. The violence has dampened hopes of peace talks to end Afghanistan’s 17-year conflict but two Taliban officials on Tuesday said the movement was preparing for another meeting with US officials following one in July. Nangarhar, one of the main strongholds of Islamic State militant fighters since early 2015, has been one of the most volatile regions this year, with a string of suicide bombings and attacks on its capital, Jalalabad. — Reuters