UPDATED: Russia School Shooting Leaves 13 Dead, Including Children


The death toll has risen to 13 people, including seven children, after a man opened fire Monday at his former school in central Russia, authorities said.

The attack was the latest in a series of school shootings that have shaken Russia in recent years and came with the country on edge over efforts to mobilise tens of thousands of men to fight in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the “inhuman terrorist attack” in the city of Izhevsk, the Kremlin said, adding that the shooter “apparently belongs to a neo-fascist group”.

According to investigators, the attacker “was wearing a black top with Nazi symbols and a balaclava” when his body was discovered.

He was later identified as a local man born in 1988, who graduated from this school.

Investigators have said two security guards and two teachers were among the victims, while the attacker “committed suicide”.

Authorities previously announced a death toll of nine people but did not specify if that included the suspected shooter.

Investigators said they were conducting a search in his home and looking into his “adherence to neo-fascist views and Nazi ideology”.

The region’s governor Alexander Brechalov confirmed there were “casualties and wounded among children”, speaking in a video statement outside school No88 in Izhevsk.

Rescue and medical workers could be seen in the background, some running inside the school with stretchers.

Russia’s health ministry said “14 ambulance teams” were working at the scene to help the injured, news agencies reported.

Brechalov declared a period of mourning in the region to last until Thursday.

A city of around 630,000 people, Izhevsk is the regional capital of Russia’s Udmurt Republic, located around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) east of Moscow.

The attack came just hours after a man had opened fire and severely wounded a recruitment officer at an enlistment centre in Siberia.

Russia’s last major school shooting was in April, when an armed man opened fire in a kindergarten in the central Ulyanovsk region, leaving a teacher and two children dead.

The shooter, described as “mentally ill”, was later found dead, with officials saying he had shot himself.

Tightening gun laws

Mass shootings at schools and universities in Russia were rare until 2021, when the country was rocked by two separate killing sprees in the central Russian cities of Kazan and Perm that spurred lawmakers to tighten laws regulating access to guns.

In September 2021, a student dressed in black tactical clothing and helmet armed with a hunting rifle swept through Perm State University buildings killing six people, mostly women, and injuring two dozen others.

The gunman resisted arrest and was shot by law enforcement as he was apprehended and moved to a medical facility for treatment.

It was the second such attack that year, after a 19-year-old former student shot dead nine people at his old school in the Kazan in May.

Investigators said that the gunman suffered from a brain disorder, but was deemed fit to receive a license for the semi-automatic shotgun that he used.

On the day of that attack Putin called for a review of gun control laws and the age to acquire hunting rifles was increased from 18 to 21 and medical checks were strengthened.

Authorities have blamed foreign influence for previous school shootings, saying young Russians have been exposed online and on television to similar attacks in the United States and elsewhere.

Other high-profile shooting cases have taken place in Russia’s army, putting the issue of hazing in the spotlight in the country were military service is compulsory for men aged between 18 and 27.

In November 2020, a 20-year-old soldier killed three fellow servicemen at a military base near the city of Voronezh. In a similar attack in 2019, a young recruit shot dead eight servicemen, saying he faced bullying and harassment in the army.

Two Russian Embassy Staff Among Six Killed In Kabul Suicide Attack

Taliban fighters (C) stand guard along a road near the Russian embassy after a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2022. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP)


The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing near the Russian embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday that killed two staff from the diplomatic mission and four others.

In the first attack targeting a foreign mission since the Taliban seized power in August last year, the bomber struck near the entrance of the embassy’s consular section.

An IS fighter “blew up his suicide vest in a gathering attended by Russian employees” near the embassy, the jihadist group said in a statement via Telegram channels.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to journalists in Moscow, slammed the attack as “absolutely unacceptable.”

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry confirmed the deaths of two embassy staff.

Four Afghans waiting for consular services were also killed and several more wounded, Kabul police said.

Violence in Afghanistan has largely declined since the Taliban returned to power, but several bomb blasts — some targeting minority communities — have rocked the country in recent months, many claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group.

As with other recent attacks, heavy Taliban security quickly sealed off the area and prevented media from filming nearby.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said immediate steps were taken to boost security at the embassy, located on one of Kabul’s main roads and leading to the parliament building.

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Intelligence ‘Weakness’ 

The attack is sure to embarrass the Taliban leadership, which for months has encouraged foreign nations to reopen their Kabul missions, insisting security was guaranteed.

During the chaotic takeover of the country by the Taliban last year, the Russian embassy was one of the few to remain open, as most nations shut down and evacuated staff.

The Afghan foreign ministry said an investigation had been launched and authorities “will not allow the enemies to sabotage relations between both countries with such negative actions”.

Afghan security analyst Hekmatullah Hekmat said the attack showed the government’s “weakness” in gathering intelligence.

“If they can’t prevent such attacks in the heart of Kabul, then they can’t provide security in the countryside,” he told AFP.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly” condemned the attack and expressed his condolences to the victims and their families in a statement.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan also condemned the bombing.

“UNAMA stresses the need for the de facto authorities to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the people as well as diplomatic missions,” it tweeted.

On Friday, a suicide bomber struck one of western Afghanistan’s biggest mosques, killing at least 18 people, including its influential pro-Taliban imam. The cleric, Mujib ur Rahman Ansari, who had called for those who committed even the “smallest act” against the government to be beheaded, was killed in that attack in the city of Herat.

The attack against Ansari came despite authorities providing him with heavy security, including a bulletproof vehicle and bodyguards.

Several mosques across the country have been targeted this year, some in attacks claimed by IS.

At least 21 people were killed and dozens more wounded on August 17 when a blast ripped through a mosque packed with worshippers in Kabul.

IS has primarily targeted minority communities such as Shiites, Sufis and Sikhs.

While IS is a Sunni Islamist group like the Taliban, the two are bitter rivals and greatly diverge on ideological grounds.

Taliban officials claim that IS has been defeated, but experts say the group is the main security challenge for the country’s current Islamist rulers.


At Least 30 Dead In Suicide Attack On Pakistan Shiite Mosque

Relatives mourn the death of their relatives outside a hospital following a bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022.  (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)



At least 30 people were killed and 80 wounded in a suicide attack at a Shiite mosque on Friday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, where rescuers frantically ferried the dead and wounded from the scene. 

One witness saw the attacker enter the mosque before Friday prayers and open “fire with a pistol”, picking out the worshippers “one-by-one”.

He “then blew himself up”, Ali Asghar said.


A soldier stands guard inside a mosque after a bomb blast in Peshawar on March 4, 2022. (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)


The attack comes on the first day of a cricket Test match in Rawalpindi — around 190 kilometres (120 miles) to the east — between Pakistan and Australia, who haven’t toured the country in nearly a quarter of a century because of security concerns.

Muhammad Ali Saif, a spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, told AFP “more than 30” were killed and some 80 others wounded in the blast near Peshawar’s Kocha Risaldar, a similar distance west of the capital Islamabad.

“It was a suicide attack,” he said.


Medical staff and men help move an injured blast victim outside a hospital after a bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022.  (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)



People help to move a victim outside a hospital following a bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022.  (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)


An AFP reporter saw body parts strewn at the site, where desperate family members were held back by police. The explosion blew out the windows of nearby buildings.

“I saw a man firing at two policemen before he entered the mosque. Seconds later I heard a big bang,” said witness Zahid Khan.


People help an injured man outside a hospital following a bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022.  (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)



Rescue personnel push a stretcher with the body of a victim after a bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022.  (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)


– Police officers shot –
Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP the death toll could be higher than 30 and that two attackers were involved.

He said two police officers were shot at the entrance of the mosque.

“One policeman died on the spot while the other was critically injured,” he said.

Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital said “we have declared an emergency at the hospitals and more injured are being brought”.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office said he “strongly condemned” the attack.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the apparent suicide bombing.


An injured man (R) uses a mobile phone outside a hospital following a bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022.  (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)



People gather next to the bodies of victims outside a hospital following bomb blast at a mosque in Peshawar on March 4, 2022. (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)


Peshawar — just 50 kilometres from the porous border with Afghanistan — was a frequent target of militants in the early 2010s but security has greatly improved in recent years.

Sunni majority Pakistan has recently been battling a resurgence of its domestic chapter of the Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

A one-month truce last year failed to hold and there are fears the TTP — which has targeted Shia Muslims in the past — has been emboldened by the success of the Afghan Taliban.

Shiites in the region have also been targeted by the regional iteration of the Islamic State group, Islamic State Khorasan (ISK).

At least 31 people were killed in a suicide blast at a crowded market in Peshawar in 2018.

At least 88 people died and hundreds more were wounded a year earlier when a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of devotees at a revered Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province.

Suicide Attack On Iran Revolutionary Guards Bus Kills 27


A suicide attack Wednesday on an Iranian Revolutionary Guards bus killed 27 troops as they were returning from a border patrol mission, a statement from the elite unit said.

“In this terrorist attack 27 of Islam’s brave warriors were killed and 13 were wounded,” it said, with the Revolutionary Guards accusing “world domination and Zionist intelligence agencies” of backing the attackers.

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Official IRNA news agency earlier said at least 20 people were killed in the suicide attack in southeastern Iran.


At Least 50 Killed In Attack On Kabul Religious Gathering

Relatives of blast victims gather outside a hospital of the Italian aid organisation ‘Emergency’ in Kabul on November 20, 2018, following a blast at a meeting of top clerics in the Afghan capital.
At least 40 people were killed in an explosion at a meeting of top clerics in Kabul on November 20, officials said, in one of the deadliest attacks to strike the Afghan capital in months.


At least 50 people were killed in a suicide attack on a religious celebration in Kabul on Tuesday, officials said, in one of the deadliest assaults to strike Afghanistan this year.

It follows a wave of bloody violence across the war-torn country in recent weeks that has killed hundreds of people as militants step up assaults amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year conflict.



At least 72 people were wounded in the blast, health ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said, which targeted religious scholars and leaders inside a wedding hall where hundreds had gathered to mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday — one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.

Religious studies lecturer Mohammad Hanif said verses of the Koran were being recited when there was a deafening explosion followed by “chaos” inside the packed hall.

“More than 60 or 70 people were martyred,” Hanif, 31, told AFP outside a trauma facility run by Italian NGO Emergency. He escaped unhurt.

“They suffered burns, everyone in the halls was screaming for help.”

A photo posted on WhatsApp purportedly of the function room showed blood-splattered bodies, some with clothes partially ripped off by the force of the blast, overturned chairs and broken glass strewn over the floor.

President Ashraf Ghani declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for the victims of the attack, which he described in a statement as an “unforgivable crime”.


Afghan medical staff members with stretchers wait outside a hospital of the Italian aid organisation ‘Emergency’ in Kabul on November 12, 2018. At least three people were killed when a suicide attacker blew himself up in Kabul on November 12, close to where scores of Afghans had been protesting against Taliban attacks on the minority Hazara ethnic group.


A manager of the multi-storey Uranus Wedding Palace, which also hosts political and religious functions, told AFP the suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the gathering of around 1,000 people.

“There are a lot of casualties — I myself have counted 30 casualties,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The aid organisation Emergency said on Twitter 33 wounded and seven dead had been taken to its hospital in Kabul.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but the Islamic State group has claimed most recent suicide attacks in Kabul, which has become the most dangerous place in the country for civilians.

The Taliban condemned the attack in a WhatsApp message.

More bloodshed

It was the bloodiest assault in the Afghan capital since a twin bomb attack on a wrestling club in September that killed at least 26 people, and one of the deadliest in the country this year.

A suicide attack on Afghans protesting the appointment of a local police chief in the eastern province of Nangarhar in September killed at least 68 people and wounded another 165. No group claimed that explosion.

In January an ambulance packed with explosives detonated in a crowded street in the heart of Kabul, killing more than 100 people, mostly civilians. The attack was claimed by the Taliban.

Last month’s parliamentary elections sparked a wave of deadly violence across the country, with hundreds killed or wounded in poll-related attacks.

It is not the first time religious scholars have been targeted by militants in the Islamic country.

In June a suicide bomber struck near a gathering of clerics in Kabul, about an hour after the group had proclaimed such attacks a sin.

The latest attack comes as the Taliban intensifies pressure on Afghan security forces, even as the international community ramps up efforts to convince the group to engage in peace talks.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad expressed hopes in Kabul on Sunday that a peace deal to end the war could be struck before the Afghan presidential election, scheduled for April.

His comments underscore an apparent increasing sense of urgency in the White House and among American diplomats for a peace deal to be done quickly.

Russia Probes Suicide Attack On Security Service Headquarters

A Russian police officer patrols in a street near a building housing the FSB security service in Arkhangelsk on October 31, 2018, after an explosive device went off inside the building. 


Russia launched a terrorism probe on Wednesday after a 17-year-old student blew himself up at the regional headquarters of the FSB security agency, wounding three employees.

Several minutes before the suicide blast in the northern city of Arkhangelsk, a post on an anarchist forum warned of an imminent explosion.

Investigators said they were checking whether the suspected bomber was a member of any banned organisations and talk to his friends and relatives to “find out the motives for the crime”.

An explosive device detonated in the FSB building shortly before 9:00 am (0600 GMT), authorities said.

Investigators identified the bomber as a 17-year-old local resident.

An official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, named the suicide bomber as Mikhail Zhlobitsky, a student at a local technical college.

Investigators probing the attack released a photo of the suspect — a skinny young man with a backpack — inside the FSB building.

Authorities cordoned off streets around the building for several hours, with police and experts combing the area for clues.

Attacks on police and security services are common in Russia’s restive Northern Caucasus, but are rare in the rest of the country.

President Vladimir Putin — himself a former FSB officer — was informed about the explosion, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, but declined to speculate on the motive.

Investigators said they had opened a probe into terrorism and illegal possession of ammunition.

Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee probing the case, said the young man’s motives should be established “as soon as possible.”

Investigators searched Zhlobitsky’s apartment and questioned his relatives and friends.

Three FSB employees were hospitalised with injuries after the blast in Arkhangelsk, which is more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) north of Moscow.

“One man is in surgery,” a spokeswoman for the regional FSB told AFP.

‘FSB has gone mad’

Seven minutes before the blast, a post in an anarchist forum on Telegram, a messaging service, warned that the FSB building would be the target of a “terror attack.”

The writer of the post, who signed as Valeryan Panov, said he would claim responsibility for it.

“The reasons are quite clear to you,” said the post.

“It (the FSB) is inventing cases and torturing people. I will most likely croak in the blast,” he added.

“I wish you a bright future of anarchist communism.”

The FSB is the main successor to the feared KGB agency known for persecuting dissidents in the Soviet era.

Starting in 2017, the FSB has launched several cases against young anarchists in the cities of St Petersburg and Penza. Avtonom.org, an anarchist website, have labelled the arrests “repressions” and said the young men were being tortured in custody.

The website said on Wednesday evening however that the attacker in Arkhangelsk “has never been in contact with us”, that they don’t know of any “noticeable anarchist activities” in the northern city.

Attacks by anarchists on Russian authorities have in the past included setting police cars on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails at the offices of the ruling party United Russia.

Regional governor Igor Orlov said that the authorities were working to establish the type of explosive used.

“Things are very serious,” he said, blaming the attack on “destructive forces” that influence young Russians.

“We are taking measures to increase security of all public and state buildings in Arkhangelsk region,” he added.


At Least 20 Killed In Afghan Shiite Mosque Attack – Officials


At least 20 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a suicide attack on a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan Friday, officials said, warning that the toll could rise.

“We have 20 people killed and around 50 others were wounded,” General Raz Mohammad Mandozai, provincial police chief of Paktia province, near the Pakistan border, told AFP.

A second official said there were at least 70 dead and wounded in the attack.

Suicide Attack Hits Shiite Mosque In Eastern Afghanistan


A suicide attack struck a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan Friday targeting worshippers during weekly prayers, with officials warning of multiple casualties in the latest incident to hit the minority.

“A suicide blast took place inside a Shiite mosque in the city of Gardez of Paktia province. There are casualties from the blast, but we don’t know how many for now,” General Raz Mohammad Mandozai, provincial police chief of Paktia, told AFP.

Wilayat Khan Ahmadzai, head of the Gardez public health department, confirmed the attack and fears over mounting casualties.

“We have received 60 wounded worshippers and four dead at the civilian hospital in Gardez,” said Ahmadzai.

The attack comes as urban areas across Afghanistan have been rocked by an increasing number of attacks in recent months, with both the Islamic State (IS) and Taliban insurgents targeting security forces and government installations.

The Taliban has not claimed a major attack in a city for weeks as it comes under increased pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government.

But IS has carried out multiple attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital Kabul in recent months, targeting everything from government ministries to a midwife training centre.

Last month an IS suicide bomber blew himself up near Kabul international airport, killing 23 people including AFP driver Mohammad Akhtar.

The increased attacks come as US and Afghan forces intensify ground and air offensives against IS, and the Taliban step up their turf war with the group.

Seven Dead In Suicide Attack At Afghan Ministry – Official

File: Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a car bomb attack. PHOTO: NOOR MOHAMMAD / AFP


A suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a government ministry in Kabul on Sunday as workers were leaving their offices, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 15, officials said, in the latest deadly attack to rock the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion outside the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, which was the second time in as many months that its compound has been struck.

It follows a series of attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad in recent weeks that have killed dozens of people. Most of those assaults were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Civilians and security forces were among the seven dead in Monday’s attack, police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said. The death toll was confirmed by an Afghan security source.

Ministry spokesman Fraidoon Azhand said the bomber struck at a security gate as employees were exiting the compound during rush hour.

But it was not clear if the ministry was the target of the attack.

Stanikzai said security forces and a vehicle belonging to foreign advisers to the ministry were in the vicinity at the time of the attack.

The vehicle was damaged in the blast but there were no foreign casualties, he added.

On June 11 a bomber blew himself up as ministry workers queued for an early bus home during the holy month of Ramadan, killing at least 13 people and wounding 31.

IS claimed responsibility for that attack.

– Record civilian casualties –

Sunday’s blast came hours after a UN report was released showing a record number of civilians killed in the first six months of 2018, with militant attacks and suicide bombs the leading causes of death.

The toll of 1,692 fatalities was one percent more than a year earlier and the highest for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2009.

Another 3,430 people were wounded in the war, down five percent from the same period last year, the report said.

The record high death toll came despite an unprecedented ceasefire by Afghan security forces and the Taliban last month that was largely respected by both sides, UNAMA said.

The ceasefire for the first three days of Eid was marked by scenes of jubilation as security forces and Taliban fighters celebrated the Islamic holiday, raising hopes that peace was possible after nearly 17 years of conflict.

But the suspension of hostilities was marred by two suicide attacks in the eastern province of Nangarhar that killed dozens of people and were claimed by IS, which was not part of the ceasefire.

Suicide bombs and “complex” attacks that involve several militants accounted for 1,413 casualties — 427 deaths and 986 injuries — up 22 percent from a year earlier.

UNAMA attributed 52 percent of those casualties to IS, mainly in Kabul and Nangarhar where the group established a stronghold after emerging in Afghanistan in 2014.

The Taliban was responsible for 40 percent.

While the Taliban is Afghanistan’s largest militant group and holds or contests more territory than any other, IS has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to carry out devastating attacks in urban areas.

Afghan Sikhs, Hindus Grieve After Suicide Attack Kills 19

An Afghan Sikh woman weeps during a burial ceremony following a suicide attack in Jalalabad on July 2, 2018, a day after the attack.


Grief mixed with anger among Afghanistan’s minority Sikh and Hindu community on Monday as they prepared for funerals of loved ones, including an election candidate, killed in a suicide attack.

At least 19 people were killed and 21 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus waiting to meet President Ashraf Ghani in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday.

Scores of mourners shouted “death to Ashraf Ghani” and “death to the government” as they placed coffins in ambulances that would take them to a temple for funeral ceremonies.

Among the dead were 17 Sikhs and Hindus, officials said, including Avtar Singh, the only Sikh candidate running in the October 20 legislative elections, and Rawail Singh, a prominent social activist.

“This attack has killed many of our elders, those who loved their country more than anything else,” Narendar Singh told AFP as he took the body of his father, Avtar Singh, from the hospital.

“We were the direct target. The government really does not care about us. We used to be a huge community but most of us have left.”


Ambulances transport the coffins with bodies of Afghan Sikhs killed in a suicide attack in Jalalabad on July 2, 2018, a day after the attack.

Around 1,000 Sikhs and Hindus are estimated to reside in what is otherwise an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.


The vast majority live in Jalalabad as well as the southeastern city of Ghazni and the Afghan capital Kabul.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest carried out by the militants in the restive province where they have a foothold.

Ghani was in Jalalabad on Sunday as part of a two-day visit to the province. He was not harmed.

Singh said a group of 20 Sikhs and Hindus had planned to meet with Ghani in the morning at the provincial governor’s compound but the meeting was postponed until the afternoon.

As their convoy neared the compound, they were stopped by security forces and ordered to get out of their cars to be checked.

“That is when a suicide bomber on foot detonated among us,” Singh said.

Jagandar Singh, who lost his brother in the attack, said the mourners would consider taking to “the streets in Kabul” to express their anger at the government’s inability to protect civilians.

“We have lost hope with this government,” he said.

“Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are all brothers but unfortunately under this government none of them is safe.”

IS was not part of the government’s recent 18-day ceasefire with the Taliban that expired on Friday.

The government’s unilateral truce overlapped with the Taliban’s three-day ceasefire for Eid. It was marred by two suicide attacks in Nangarhar that were claimed by IS.

Taliban Refuse To Extend Afghanistan Ceasefire, As Suicide Attack Kills 18

Afghan Taliban militants stand with residents as they took to the street to celebrate ceasefire on the second day of Eid in the outskirts of Jalalabad on June 16,2018. 


The Taliban refused to extend their ceasefire beyond Sunday night, dampening hopes for peace after jubilant scenes over the Eid holidays in Afghanistan.

The announcement came after a suicide attack in the restive eastern part of the country on Sunday killed at least 18 people in a crowd celebrating the Muslim holiday, the second assault in as many days to mar the unprecedented ceasefire.

Kabul extended its ceasefire with the Taliban by 10 days but said security forces would defend themselves if attacked, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani tweeted.

The Afghan leader also requested the militant group halt hostilities but the Taliban said fighting would resume.

“The ceasefire ends tonight and our operations will begin, inshallah (God willing). We have no intention to extend the ceasefire,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman, told AFP in a WhatsApp message.

He made no reference to Ghani’s announcement.

The announcement has raised concern among some Afghans over the number of Taliban who have taken advantage of the ceasefire to enter cities around the country, including the capital Kabul, and may still be there when the truce ends.

The Islamic State group, which was not part of the truce, claimed it had carried out its second suicide attack in two days in the province of Nangarhar.

Provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal put the toll from Sunday’s blast in Jalalabad city, outside the office of the Nangarhar provincial governor, at 18 dead and 49 wounded.

“Some of the wounded are in a serious condition,” Kamawal added, suggesting the death toll could rise.

The governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, put the death toll slightly higher at 19.

He said a bomber on foot blew himself up among a crowd of Taliban fighters, local elders and civilians leaving the governor’s compound after attending a special event for Eid.

On Saturday, a suicide assault on a gathering of Taliban, security forces and civilians in the province killed at least 36 people and wounded 65, Kamawal told AFP.

The Islamic State’s Afghanistan franchise, which is particularly active in the east, claimed responsibility for that attack.

The group has killed hundreds of people in multiple attacks across the country since it first emerged in the region in 2014. It has also fought the Taliban in some areas.

– No surprises

The first formal nationwide ceasefire since the 2001 US invasion had been widely welcomed across the country as Afghans — Taliban, security forces and civilians — celebrated Eid, the holiday that caps the fasting month of Ramadan.

Taliban fighters and security forces embraced and took selfies with each other over the first two days of the Muslim holiday.

Civilians also flocked to greet the militants, who had left their posts or areas under their control to celebrate the halt in hostilities, fuelling hopes among war-weary Afghans that peace was possible.

Ghani’s extension of the government’s eight-day ceasefire, which had been due to expire Tuesday night, drew immediate international support and calls for the Taliban to follow suit.

The Taliban had agreed to a truce but only for the first three days of Eid, which started Friday, promising not to attack Afghan soldiers or police. They would, however, continue attacking US-led NATO troops.

Adding to unease among ordinary Afghans, who have borne the brunt of the nearly 17-year war, is the number of Taliban fighters now inside cities around the country.

“Seeing all the strange face(s) on the streets of Kabul, I am concerned. I hope there is not deception at work,” Mohammad Saber wrote on Facebook.

A user who went by the name Kargar posted: “There is word that hundreds of Taliban fighters have come to Kabul, but only a small number have left. Can Kabul police guarantee our security?”

Before the Taliban’s ceasefire had even started, analysts had expressed cautious optimism that the truces, if successful, could help build trust between the government and the Taliban and lay the groundwork for peace talks.

But it was clear that not everyone in the Taliban approved of the bonhomie between their fighters and security forces.

Following Saturday’s attack, the Taliban ordered their fighters to avoid gatherings of security forces and civilians, ostensibly to avoid further civilian casualties.

“The enemy has misused the ceasefire issue and there is a chance of more such bad incidents happening,” the group’s spokesman Mujahid said in an earlier message.

But some Taliban commanders also told AFP they disapproved of their fighters visiting government-controlled areas and celebrating with police and troops.

The Taliban’s decision to resume fighting came as no surprise to several Western diplomats in Kabul.

“If they extend the ceasefire they will be compelled to talk, which I think the Taliban isn’t interested in. They’re looking for an outright victory,” one diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

20 Die In Afghanistan Attack Despite Ceasefire Deal

Afghan Taliban militants stand with residents as they took to the street to celebrate ceasefire on the second day of Eid in the outskirts of Jalalabad on June 16, 2018.  NOORULLAH SHIRZADA / AFP


A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Afghan Taliban, security forces, and civilians celebrating an unprecedented ceasefire in the war-torn country on Saturday, killing at least 20 people, officials said.

At least 16 others were wounded in the attack in Rodat district in eastern Nangarhar province, provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.