Ghani ‘unhurt’ as blast kills dozens at Afghan president’s rally

International Desk Published: 17 September 2019, 03:31 PM | Updated: 17 September 2019, 03:32 PM
Ghani ‘unhurt’ as blast kills dozens at Afghan president’s rally
Ashraf Ghani gestures during an election campaign rally in Kabul earlier this month [Omar Sobhan/[Reuters]

At least 24 people have been killed and more than 30 wounded in a bomb blast near an election rally held by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is reported to be safe and unharmed, reports Aljazeera. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday's explosion in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province.

A local government official said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

Abdul Qasim Sangin, head of the provincial hospital, said women and children were among the victims.

"Most of the victims seem to be the civilians. Ambulances are still operating, and the number of casualties may rise," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Ghani was present at the time of the explosion but is safe and unharmed, his campaign spokesman, Hamed Aziz, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press news agency.

Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan, said the explosion happened at the entrance of the venue hosting the rally.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, another explosion killed at least three people in the centre of Afghanistan's capital city Kabul, police officials said.

Across Afghanistan, attacks have continued as the country prepares for a presidential election later this month.

Al Jazeera's Rob McBride reporting from Kabul said that it's not known whether Ghani is still present at the site and whether security will allow him to remain in place and later address the rally.

McBride added that compared to previous elections, there has been a deterioration in security.

"Everybody has been expecting since peace talks broke down and the government reaffirmed its commitment to going ahead with this election, amid threats from the Taliban that they would disrupt things, that we are going to see an uptick in violence," McBride said, adding that there have been more attacks than usual including over the weekend when the power lines that supply electricity to Kabul were brought down.

"But the government seems determined that it will go through with this election and its committed more than 70,000 security forces across the country to ensure that this election will go ahead.

"But by its own admission, instead of the 7,000 polling stations that were opened five years ago during the last election, already we know that the number's probably going to be about 5,000," McBride said.