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Suicide bomber targets Sikhs, Hindus in Afghanistan, 19 dead

A suicide bomber targeted a group of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet Afghanistan's president in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 19 people.

Members of minority community attacked while travelling to meet Afghan president

The explosion hit the centre of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing at least 19 people, including several members of the small Sikh minority. (Parwiz/Afghanistan)

A suicide bomber targeted a group of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet Afghanistan's president in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 19 people.

Inamullah Miakhail, spokesperson for the provincial hospital in Nangarhar, said 17 of the dead were from the minority Sikh and Hindu community.

Miakhail added that at least 10 of 20 wounded were also from the same minority community and were undergoing treatment at a Jalalabad hospital.

Police officers inspect the site of Sunday's explosion in Jalalabad. (Parwiz/Reuters)

Narendr Singh, one of the wounded Sikhs from Sunday's attack, confirmed by phone from his hospital bed in Jalalabad that the attack targeted their convoy.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesperson for the provincial governor, said a number of shops and vehicles caught fire as result of the attack.

Gen. Ghulam Sanayee Stanekzai, Nangarhar's police chief, said the attacker targeted the group on its way to the governor's compound. They had planned to meet with President Ashraf Ghani, who was visiting the region on Sunday.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban and an affiliate with the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are active in the province.

Yellow armbands once required

Sikhs and Hindus have long suffered widespread discrimination in the conservative Muslim country and been targeted by Islamic extremists. Today the community comprises only around 1,000 people.

Under Taliban rule in the late 1990s, they were told to identify themselves by wearing yellow armbands, but the dictate was not wholly enforced. In recent years, large numbers of Sikhs and Hindus have sought asylum in India, which has a Hindu majority and a large Sikh population.

In a separate incident, at least 110 people have been hospitalized after drinking from a river in the northern Parwan province, an official said.

Abdul Khalil Farhangi, the head of the main hospital in Charakar, the provincial capital, said it was not clear what caused them to become ill. The symptoms included vomiting and headaches.

Afghanistan's infrastructure has suffered from decades of war, and many rural communities do not have access to electricity or clean running water.

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