Afghanistan: Multiple blasts hit Jalalabad, casualties feared

AFP Kabul, Afghanistan Mar 06, 2019, 11.16 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Multiple blasts rattled eastern Afghanistan’s Jalalabad early Wednesday with casualties feared, an Afghan official said, as militants appeared to target a private company near the city’s airport.

“Two attackers detonated their vests, and two more were gunned down by security forces,” provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP, adding that a clearance operation was ongoing.

An AFP reporter in the area confirmed the blasts.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bombings come as US and Taliban negotiations continue to hold ongoing peace talks in Qatar aimed at ending the nearly 18-year conflict.

Despite a two-day break before the weekend, negotiations continue on "a daily basis right now and progress is being made", US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told journalists Tuesday.

"These discussions are ongoing and what we're focusing on are the four interconnected issues that are going to compose any future agreement," Palladino said -- listing them as "terrorism," "troop withdrawal," "intra-Afghan dialogue" and "ceasefire."

The continuation of the talks follows a major attack on a joint US-Afghan base in southwestern Afghanistan's Helmand province last week, with at least 23 security forces killed in the hours-long assault on one of the largest military installations in the country.

Heavy snowfall across large swathes of Afghanistan has led to a sharp reduction in violence this winter, but warmer weather in the country's south will likely spark an increase in bloodshed with the arrival of the spring fighting season.

Analysts have warned that the Taliban are likely to ramp up attacks in the coming months as they seek to maintain momentum on the battlefield and leverage at the negotiating table.