Blast in Afghanistan’s Balkh province kills one, injures 5

Published March 11, 2023
<p>Taliban security personnel (R) block a road in Mazar-i-Sharif on March 9, following a blast at the office of Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province. — AFP</p>

Taliban security personnel (R) block a road in Mazar-i-Sharif on March 9, following a blast at the office of Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province. — AFP

A blast hit the capital of Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province on Saturday, police said, killing one person and wounding five a few days after the death of the province’s governor in an explosion claimed by the militant group Islamic State.

“A blast has taken place in the second police district of Balkh,” said Mohamad Asif Waziri, Balkh’s police spokesperson. He confirmed the casualty toll, saying three children were among the injured.

A journalist based in Balkh, Mohammad Fardin Nowrozi, told Reuters he and other journalists were injured in the explosion but did not provide further details.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

Taliban authorities were already investigating the explosion that killed the provincial governor, Mohammad Dawood Muzamil, and two others at his office on Thursday.

Local police spokesman Asif Waziri had told AFP that the blast happened on the second floor of the governor’s office in the provincial capital Mazar-i-Sharif.

The incident had occurred at around 9:30am when the governor arrived at his office from home.

The governor of Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar will temporarily run Balkh, his spokesman Haji Zaid told Reuters, until Supreme Spiritual Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada selects a new governor for the northern province, an important trade hub with Central Asia.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said Pakistan would like to see the Taliban take action against all terrorist groups, but said there were questions about their capacity to combat these groups.

The Taliban-run administration has faced an insurgency by IS militants who have targeted foreigners at certain sites, including the Russian and Pakistani embassies and a hotel catering to Chinese businessmen.

In January this year, at least five people were killed and several others were injured in a blast outside the foreign ministry in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, officials had said.

A month before that, at least three people were killed when gunmen attacked a hotel popular with Chinese business people in the Afghan capital.

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