ISIS, or militants with ties to the group, appears to have carried out a suicide bomb near a bank in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad that killed at least 35 people and injured more than 100. If ISIS involvement is confirmed it would mark a terrifying milestone: the first time militants loyal to the Islamic State in Afghanistan have carried out such a major operation, reports the Washington Post. President Ashraf Ghani directly blamed ISIS militants for the attack, which took place outside a bank where government workers collect their wages.
“Today the deadly attack in Nangarhar Province — who claimed responsibility?” said Ghani, speaking on national television, according to the New York Times. “Taliban did not claim responsibility, but Daesh claimed responsibility.” Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS. A pro-Islamic State Group that goes by the name Province of Khurasan released a photo of the alleged suicide bomber, reports the Wall Street Journal. “Many congratulations to all on the first fedayeen attack by the Wilayah Khurasan,” noted a statement on Twitter using fedayeen to refer to suicide attackers.
Taliban insurgents denied responsibility for the group and even said they were opposed to the carnage. “It was an evil act. We strongly condemn it,” the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters. Although the Taliban is still seen as the major threat to safety in the country, the ability of the ISIS Afghan affiliate “to strike at will would mark a new threat for the country to contend with as U.S. and NATO forces ended their combat mission at the start of the year,” notes the Associated Press.