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Suicide Bombing Kills At Least 35 In Jalalabad; ISIS Reportedly Claims Responsibility

In what could be the first attack in Afghanistan by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the extremist group has reportedly said it is behind Saturday's deadly attack in Jalalabad. Media outlets and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have noted the claim, which has not been independently verified.

"Who claimed responsibility for horrific attack in Nangarhar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack," Ghani told Agence France-Presse. Daesh is the Arabic term for ISIS.

In the attack, "a suicide bomber detonated his suicide vest in a line of people queuing for salaries near the New Kabul Bank branch," reports Afghanistan's TOLO news agency. The blast killed at least 35 people and left more than 100 wounded, according to the United Nations. It's the third outburst of violence in the region in the past two weeks.

From Kabul, Rebecca Hersher reports:

"The attack took place in the eastern city of Jalalabad. A suicide bomber on a motorbike detonated a bomb outside a bank. Afghan authorities say two other bombs were defused in the city before they detonated.

"Last week, a NATO convoy was targeted in another blast outside Jalalabad, and a recent insider attack at the governors compound killed one American and wounded eight. A Taliban spokesman says the group does not claim responsibility for today's explosion. In recent months, the group has appeared to try to distance itself from attacks that kill civilians."

The claim that ISIS was behind the attack came through a man who said he is a spokesman for the group, as well as an online message.

Reuters quotes the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying, "It was an evil act. We strongly condemn it."

U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom also condemned the attack and expressed condolences to its victims, saying, "The continuing use of suicide attacks in densely populated areas, that are certain to kill and maim large numbers of Afghan civilians, may amount to a war crime."

Haysom added, "Those responsible for this horrendous crime must be held accountable."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.