Suicide bomb attack targets Sikh minority in Afghanistan, kills 19

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At least 19 people were killed and 20 others injured in a suicide bombing attack on July 1 in the eastern city of Jalalabad, officials said. The attack came in wake of President Ashraf Ghani’s visit in provincial capital Nangarhar to inaugurate a hospital.

Ghani’s spokesman confirmed the president was still in Nangarhar but was “away from danger”.

“The blast damaged shops and buildings around Mukhaberat square in the city. Among the 19 dead were 12 Sikhs and Hindus,” governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said.

Officials confirmed that Avtar Singh Khalsa (ran unopposed for a seat in the lower house of parliament), was going to represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, also lost his life in the suicide bomb attack.

“The explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who targeted a vehicle carrying members of the Sikh minority who were travelling to meet the president,” Nangarhar’s police chief Ghulam Sanayi Stanekzai said.

Sources revealed that security forces immediately cordoned off the site of the explosion as ambulances transferred victims to the hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any terror outfit.