UPDATES WITH DEATH TOLL, MORE DETAILS
By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - The death toll from twin blasts that targeted a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Friday rose to 62, officials confirmed.
The horrendous bombings rocked Haska Maina district of the eastern Nangarhar province.
According to the governor's spokesman Attaullah Khogyani, a total of 62 lives were lost and more than 50 others injured as twin blasts ripped through the crowded mosque during the weekly Friday prayers in the Jaw Valley of the district.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, with the Taliban rejecting their involvement.
Vehemently condemning the mosque bombing, President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani said in a statement that the Afghan security forces would “chase and destroy” terrorists and their supporters involved in such atrocities.
On Thursday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a report showing record-high levels of civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2019, indicating an urgent need for all parties to the conflict to do more to protect civilians from harm.
Overall, in the first nine months of 2019, UNAMA documented 8,239 civilian casualties (2,563 killed and 5,676 injured).
“Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
“The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA.
The report indicates that from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, anti-government elements caused 5,117 civilian casualties (1,207 killed and 3,910 injured), accounting for 62% of all civilian casualties during the period.
UNAMA found that pro-government forces caused 2,348 civilian casualties (1,149 killed and 1,199 injured), a 26% increase from the same period in 2018.