A car bomb explosion in the Afghan city of Puli Alam has left 17 people dead, Al Jazeera reported. The attack came just hours before a ceasefire was set to begin between Afghan security forces and the Taliban.
Dedar Lawang, spokesman for the Logar province where the incident occurred, said the explosion happened in a crowded area near the governor’s office where people were shopping for the Eid al-Adha festival. Eid al-Adha is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Islamic religion.
The target of the attack were Afghan security officials who were gathered in extra numbers in preparation of the festival’s large crowds. However, there is a fear of civilian casualties as well, according to provincial police spokesman Shahpoor Ahmadzai.
In addition to the 17 confirmed fatalities, 21 people were also wounded.
The nation’s interior ministry spokesman, Tariq Arian, did not mince words when giving a label to those who were responsible, according to the BBC.
“The terrorists have once again struck on the night of Eid al-Adha and killed a number of our countrymen.”
The explosion happened just as a ceasefire was to start between Afghan forces and the Taliban. The Taliban, who recently agreed to a conditional peace agreement with the U.S. State Department in February, have denied any involvement in the act.
According to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, 3,560 of his troops have been killed by rebel attacks since that agreement was made earlier this year. While a U.N. report released earlier this week said more than 1,280 Afghan civilians have been killed in the first six months of 2020 alone as a result of the fighting.
The U.S. Embassy in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul issued a statement on Wednesday, just one day before the attack. It explained that special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who helped to negotiate that conditional peace agreement last winter, was emphasizing the need for both sides to keep the violence down even after the three-day ceasefire comes to an end. Khalilzad also detailed the importance of completing the prisoner exchange the two sides had been working on, which has already seen the release of over 1,000 Afghan security personnel along with over 4,500 Taliban insurgents.
The Taliban governed over Afghanistan for five years before they were ousted by American-led forces following the attacks on September 11, 2001, and have been in conflict with the country’s new regime ever since. The Trump administration is actively trying to reduce U.S. involvement within the war-torn country, including an effort to reduce American troop numbers there from 8,600 to 4,500.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Afghanistan is not the only Middle Eastern nation which has been on the minds of American diplomats. Last week, a U.S. fighter jet approached an Iranian commercial plane while both were flying over Syrian airspace, causing several injuries to civilian passengers onboard and further inflaming relations between the two countries.