Bombing kills 24 at Afghan president’s rally

Updated September 17, 2019

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In this Sept 9 file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a ceremony to introduce the new chief of the intelligence service, in Kabul, Afghanistan. —  AP
In this Sept 9 file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a ceremony to introduce the new chief of the intelligence service, in Kabul, Afghanistan. — AP

A blast killed 24 people and injured 31 others near an election rally held by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in central Parwan province on Tuesday, a health official said.

“Women and children are among them and most of the victims seems to be the civilians. Ambulances are still operating, and the number of casualties may rise,” said Dr Abdul Qasim Sangin, head of the provincial hospital.

Dr Sangin at the Charakar hospital in northern Parwan province said another 31 people were wounded in the attack.

The president’s campaign spokesman Hamed Aziz said that Ghani was there but that he was safe and unharmed. Aziz said he would provide more details later.

Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan, said the explosion happened while the rally was underway on Tuesday, at the entrance to the venue.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the country heads into presidential elections later this month despite relentless violence plaguing Afghanistan.

The Taliban have warned Afghans not to vote and said they would target polling stations and election campaigns.

US President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks to end American’s longest war last week, citing a recent Taliban attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital, that killed an American soldier.

Pakistan condemns attack

Pakistan strongly condemned the "terrorist attack" near the election rally in Parwan province, saying it supports Afghan efforts for restoring peace and stability in the country.

"We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families while praying for early recovery of those injured in the attack," a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

"Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Pakistan fully supports the Afghan efforts for restoring complete peace and stability in the country through strengthening of the democratic process in Afghanistan."


With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.