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Blasts rock Afghanistan's Jalalabad

13 May 2018 Al Jazeera

Multiple blasts in the eastern city of Jalalabad have killed at least nine people and wounded 36 others, health officials said.

At least three explosions were heard at the Custom's Finance Department on Sunday in what appeared to be a coordinated attack, Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesperson for the Nangarhar provincial governor told Reuters news agency.

A gun battle between Afghan security personnel and rebels ensued following the explosions, witnesses said.

According to media reports, the attack began when a first suicide bomber blew himself up at the building's entrance in the centre of the city.

This allowed the gunmen to enter the building, at which point more explosions were heard, Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the provincial council, told Reuters.

Sunday's events are the latest in a string of attacks that have killed hundreds of Afghans this year and put the western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani under much pressure.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and Taliban rebel groups have regularly targeted government and civilian infrastructure in recent months.

Seventeen people were killed in an attack on Monday when a bomb went off at a mosque as worshippers gathered to pray and register in the improvised voter registration centre.

Neither ISIL, nor the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

On May 9, a suicide attack by ISIL on two police stations in the Afghan capital Kabul killed 5 people and wounded 16 others.

Voter registration sites have been particularly targeted as the country prepares to hold its long-delayed legislative elections, set to take place in October.

Last year, the United States pledged to increase its support to struggling Afghan forces, announcing plans for thousands of additional advisers and increasing air strikes in a bid to force the Taliban to enter peace negotiations.

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