A powerful suicide truck bombing struck a guest house in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 21 people and wounding as many as 91, the Interior Ministry said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province, and there was no indication as to why the guest house was targeted. There were fears the death toll could rise.
In Afghanistan, guest houses are lodgings often provided for free by the government, usually for the poor, travellers and students.
The attack came on the eve of the official date set for the start of the final withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban, who had demanded that all US troops pull out of Afghanistan by May 1, have not offered any guarantees for the safety of the departing troops.
The blast struck just as guests were breaking their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan, according to the head of Logar’s provincial council, Hasibullah Stanekzai.
He said among the casualties were high school students who had been staying at the house, having travelled to the provincial capital to sit their university entrance exams, as well as pro-government militia members who were staying there while waiting for air transport to another district.
A ministry of health spokesman said dozens of people had been taken to hospital, some in a critical condition.
Violence in Afghanistan has escalated in recent weeks after US President Joe Biden announced the US would withdraw troops by September 11 to end 20 years of foreign military presence.
That decision angered the Taliban which had signed a deal with previous US President Donald Trump that specified troops would be gone from the country by May 1, subject to certain security guarantees.