A suicide bomber has killed at least 19 people in eastern Afghanistan, as a delegation of prominent Sikhs and Hindus attempted to made their way to meet President Ashraf Ghani.
Governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP the attacker struck a market located hundreds of metres from the provincial governor’s compound where Ghani was holding meetings.
Quoting police, a report by BBC said that the Sikh delegation was travelling in a vehicle to meet President Ghani, who is visiting Nangarhar province, when the bomber struck.
Among those killed was the only Sikh candidate who had planned to contest October’s parliamentary elections.
Terrorist group IS group said it had carried out the attack.
Hours earlier, Ghani had opened a hospital in Jalalabad during his two-day visit to Nangarhar. Officials said he was not in the area when the suicide blast occurred.
The Indian embassy in Kabul has condemned the “cowardly terrorist” attack. The embassy, in its tweet, confirmed that Awtar Singh Khalsa, the only Sikh candidate running in the 20 October elections, was among thise killed.
Its tweet read, The attack underlines the need for a united global fight against international terrorism without discrimination and accountability of those who support terrorists in any manner.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modo too tweeted expressing his condolences for those killed. He wrote, “We strongly condemn the terror attacks in Afghanistan yesterday. They are an attack on Afghanistan’s multicultural fabric. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I pray that the injured recover soon. India stands ready to assist the Afghanistan government in this sad hour.”
The family members of the victims wept at the hospital as they mourned the loss of their loved ones. “It is over for us, we are finished, they have massacred us, at least 10 of us,” a man told AFP.