ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - A suicide blast killed at least six civilians in eastern Afghanistan Sunday and wounded 13 others.
The bomber was on a motorcycle and apparently wanted to reach the venue of a massive pro-government rally in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province. But Afghan security forces intercepted him far away from the event, prompting him to donate explosives strapped to his body.
A provincial government spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, while confirming the casualties, told VOA one woman and a child were among the dead. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the violence.
The attack occurred a day after a suicide bomber killed two members of Afghan security forces in Jalalabad and wounded 10 more. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that violence.
The Middle East-based terrorist group calls its Afghan operations IS-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) and has lately increased attacks in the country, killing scores of people. The group is mainly active in several districts of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan.
On Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani said Islamic State is on the run in Afghanistan in the face of stepped up air and ground military offensives against the terrorist group.
Afghan forces have until now conducted around 300 airstrikes and more 1500 military operations against Daesh, eliminating hundreds of its militants, Ghani told a security meeting in Kabul while defending his counterterrorism efforts. He used the local acronym for IS and said security forces have also cleared nine districts of Daesh militants.
The rise in IS-led violence and the emergence of the group’s loyalists in new Afghan areas, particularly in northern provinces, however, have prompted lawmakers and political opponents to criticize and question the effectiveness of the ongoing military offensives against the group.
IS militants have also been engaged in fierce fighting with the Taliban, the main insurgent group waging attacks on Afghan forces and their U.S.-led international partners.
IS has made territorial advances in recent battles with the Taliban in Khogyani district of Nangarhar, according to residents and local Afghan officials.
The terrorist group’s global propaganda media claimed on Saturday IS fighters captured 18 villages in the district that were previously held by the Taliban.