Car bomb blast kills 26 in Kabul
KABUL: A car bomb killed at least 26 people at a gathering of Taliban and Afghan armed forces in the eastern city of Nangarhar on Saturday, an official said, as soldiers and militants elsewhere in the country celebrated an unprecedented ceasefire.
Dozens of unarmed Taliban militants had earlier entered the Afghan capital and other cities to celebrate, coinciding with the end of the Ramadan fasting season, as soldiers and militants exchanged hugs and took selfies on their smartphones. <link#_>
But in some provinces the insurgents were carrying rocket launchers, grenades and other ammunition.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar, confirmed a car bomb was responsible for the attack in the town of Ghazi Aminullah Khan, on the main Torkham-Jalalabad road. He had earlier said a rocket-propelled grenade was to blame.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
The Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Eid holiday, which began on Friday, except against foreign forces. It overlaps with an Afghan government ceasefire which lasts until Wednesday.
Taliban wearing traditional headgear entered Kabul through gates in the south and southeast. Traffic jams formed where people stopped to take pictures of the fighters with their flags. The Taliban urged people to come forward and take selfies.
“They are unarmed, as they handed over their weapons at the entrances,” Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai told Reuters. Their weapons would be returned when they leave, he said.
Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak met Taliban fighters in Kabul, Tolo news said, an almost unthinkable prospect just two weeks ago.
Video and pictures on news websites showed cheerful soldiers and Taliban hugging one another and exchanging Eid greetings in Logar province, south of Kabul, and Zabul in the south and central Maidan Wardak. Some people were dancing and clapping as onlookers took photos.