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Afghanistan

Afghan cricket match ends in bloodbath

An injured man is transported on a stretcher in a hospital, after blasts at sports stadium, in Jalalabad
An injured man is transported on a stretcher in a hospital, after blasts at sports stadium, in Jalalabad REUTERS/Parwiz

Eight people were killed and 45 wounded in a series of explosions targeting a cricket match in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, officials said Saturday, the first attack since the holy month of Ramadan began.

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The blasts exploded among spectators crowded into the stadium at around 18:30 GMT on Friday evening as they watched the local "Ramadan Cup", the provincial governor's office said.

No group has yet claimed the murders but the Taliban said they were not responsible in a WhatsApp message.

Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, has a Taliban presence and is also a stronghold of the Islamic State group.

In September 2017 IS claimed a suicide bombing on a cricket match in Kabul which left three dead and five injured.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday condemned the attack in Jalalabad.

"The terrorists did not stop killing our people even during the holy month of Ramadan ... by carrying out a terrorist attack in a populated sport stadium, once again they have proved that they are not bound to any creed or religion, and they are the enemy of humanity," a statement from his office said.

Cricket in Afghanistan struggled under the hardline Islamist Taliban regime in the late 1990s, which viewed sports as a distraction from religious duties.

But its popularity has surged in the years since the US invasion, a dizzying rise which saw Afghanistan become part of the elite group of Test nations last year.

(with AFP)

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