4 Die in blasts in eastern Afghanistan

A man wounded in an explosion is treated at a hospital in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Monday, May 13. EFE-EPA/Ghulamullah Habibi

KABUL.- Four people were killed and 16 others wounded Monday in a series of explosions in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, an official told EFE.

«Unfortunately, four consecutive explosions struck the city center in Police District 4 around 7.20 pm,» Attaullah Khogyanai, spokesman for the government of Nangarhar province, said.

Four of those wounded in the blasts were listed in critical condition, he said from Jalalabad, the provincial capital.

Though the explosions took place in a normally crowded area of the city, many people were indoors for the meal that marks the end of the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Authorities continue to investigate the explosions and no group has claimed responsibility.

Nangarhar, which lies on the border with Pakistan, is home to a major Taliban presence and to the largest concentration of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.

Nearly 18 years after the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Washington-backed government in Kabul controls roughly 55 percent of the country’s territory, while the Taliban dominate around 11 percent and the remained is contested, according to figures from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), created a decade ago by the US Congress.

The United Nations expressed concern Monday over civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first week of Ramadan and called for a cease-fire for the duration of the holy month.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the chief of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, pointed to a May 8 attack on the Kabul office of global aid organization Counterpart International.

At least six civilians were killed and 28 injured on the third day of Ramadan as the result of a suicide bombing followed by a gunfight that lasted for nearly six hours.

«There can be absolutely no justification for deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians,» Yamamoto said. «It is particularly egregious that a premeditated act of extreme violence was conducted against a development agency where civilians were striving to improve the lives of all citizens.»

On May 3, a five-day conference of elders, politicians, religious leaders and public figures concluded with an appeal to the government and the Taliban to observe a cease-fire for Ramadan.

But the Taliban rejected the idea and dismissed the meeting as a gathering of those who support foreign invaders.

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