The Islamic State group claimed credit for an attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan that killed 35 people on Saturday, April 18. This was the first attack by the militant group in that country, according to Time Magazine. The attack occurred outside a bank in the eastern Nangarhar province and wounded 100 others.
The bomber drove up to the bank on a motor bike and parked outside of the institution before blowing himself up in a suicide attack, according to CNN. The attack was made by a branch of the Islamic State called ISIS Wilayat Khorason.
In a statement, the group said the bomber was named Abu Mohammad and he belonged to the Islamic State ranks. He was targeting government workers collecting their pay at the bank, the terrorists said.
Mohammad detonated the bomb at the peak of rush hour when the bank was most likely to be crowded.
President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani spoke on national television about the bombing, saying “today the deadly attack in Nangarhar Province — who claimed responsibility? Taliban did not claim responsibility, but [the Islamic State] claimed responsibility.”
The blast at the bank was one of three separate explosions heard in Jalalabad in quick succession around 8 a.m. on April 18, according to police cited by The New York Times.
The first of the three blasts, apparently involving a planted bomb, occurred at a religious shrine and injured two Afghan citizens. Seconds later, according to the New York Times, the suicide bomber at the bank detonated a vest packed with explosives.
A short time later, the police in Jalalabad discovered a third bomb in a motorcycle parked in front of a branch of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. They detonated it under controlled conditions to ensure that no one was hurt.
There have been reports of Islamic State group recruiting activities in Afghanistan, especially in the southern part of the country. The bombing at the bank was the first instance of a significant terrorist attack to be claimed by the Islamic State group anywhere in eastern Afghanistan. Jalalabad is only about 60 miles from the national capital, Kabul.
The fear of the Islamic State growing in the impoverished Afghanistan has been growing this year, after several Taliban officials pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
“You do have some of the Taliban breaking off and claiming allegiance toward [the Islamic State group],” said top United States and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Campbell, attributing the phenomenon partly to a feeling of disenfranchisement on the parts of some Taliban members – who, he said, may use Islamic State tactics to gain media attention.
The United Nations condemned the violence, Nicholas Haysum, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, released a statement saying, “the continuing use of suicide attacks in densely populated areas, that are certain to kill and maim large numbers of Afghan civilians, may amount to a war crime.”
Editor’s Note: Information from Time Magazine, CNN and The New York Times were used in this report.