JALALABAD: At least 16 people were killed in a suicide attack early Wednesday on a construction company in eastern Afghanistan, an official said, the latest bloody assault in the war-torn country, reports AFP.
The hours-long assault in Jalalabad began early Wednesday when at least two blasts were heard, an AFP reporter said, before security forces rushed to the scene in the city, which is the capital of Nangarhar province.“Sixteen employees of the company have been killed and nine more injured,” provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP. A second official said there had been casualties but could not immediately verify the toll.
“All five attackers have been killed by security forces,” Khogyani added.
Meanwhile, the US State Department said on Tuesday peace talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar have yielded progress but much remains to be done.
Washington’s envoy Zalmay Khalilzad resumed negotiations on February 25, part of a months-long push to end the war in Afghanistan, America’s longest-running conflict which has been raging since shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks against the US.
Despite a two-day break before the weekend, negotiations continue on “a daily basis right now and progress is being made,” spokesman Robert Palladino told journalists.
A Taliban spokesman also said on Sunday that the talks were progressing “on a step-by-step basis.”“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.”
Initially, Khalilzad was to return to Washington on February 28, but discussions have continued.
“I wouldn’t go so far as saying open-ended, but this is the nature of diplomacy: opportunities present themselves, we change course, we correct,” said Palladino.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an exchange with high school students in Iowa he hoped sufficient gains would be made for him to be able to take a trip to help advance the negotiations “in a couple weeks.”