KABUL — A suicide bomber killed 33 and injured scores more on Saturday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, the latest in a string of assaults to target the area in the past two weeks.
The assault was one of several blasts that unfolded at about 8.30 a.m. around the city, said police officials, adding that no one died in the other explosions.
The suicide bomber detonated an vest filled with explosives outside New Kabul bank where Afghan government workers, including police officers and soldiers, waited in line to collect paychecks, said police officials.
“The suicide bomber was on foot and wanted to get inside the bank when he detonated his explosives,” said Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal, the police spokesman for Nangarhar Province.
While police officials placed the toll at 22 dead and 50 wounded, hospitals had received at least 33 bodies, said Najeeb Kamawal, the head of the province’s public health ministry. More than 100 people were wounded, he added. Many were in critical condition, suggesting that the death toll could rise.
Suspicion immediately fell on the Taliban insurgency, but group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied responsibility for any of the explosions. In a tweet, he said “we condemn/deny involvement.”
The second explosion, said Mashreqiwal, was from a bomb that exploded outside of a shrine. A third bomb that was found unexploded outside the National Bank of Afghanistan, and police later detonated it in a controlled environment.
A fourth explosion took place in the Behshood District of the province, when a small magnetic bomb killed one and wounded two others, added Mashreqiwal.
Saturday’s bombing in Jalalabad was the third deadly attack in the city since April 8, when an Afghan in military uniform killed an American soldier and wounded several others in a suspected insider attack. That assault also killed an Afghan soldier and wounded two others. Two days later, a suicide bomber targeted a U.S. military convoy, killing four Afghan civilians and wounding 10 others. There were no U.S. casualties.
Saturday’s attack was not the first to strike Kabul Bank in Jalalabad. In 2001, a group of suicide bombers targeted the same branch, killing 38 customers who were also waiting to pick up paychecks.