Death toll from Afghanistan blast rises to 68

Suicide attack in Afghanistan raises new questions about strength of government U.S.-led forces

Suicide attack in Afghanistan raises new questions about strength of government U.S.-led forces

Local officials said the attack targeted a gathering to protest against a local militia commander and said hundreds of people were present when the blast occurred. "At least 20 civilians were killed and more than 60 injured", UNAMA said. The details of the complaint against the police chief were not immediately clear.

The deadly suicide attack came hours after multiple bombings targeted schools in Nangarhar's capital, Jalalabad.

The attack was one of the worst in Afghanistan for months but security officials have warned that similar attacks are likely if crowds gather for campaign rallies ahead of parliamentary elections in October. The Taliban has denied involvement.

Another 23 people were wounded in the attack, the provincial governor's spokesman Attaullah Khoghani said.

Journalist Ali Latifi has the latest from the capital Kabul.

Local officials said the wounded were taken to Jalalabad hospitals.

The death toll could be higher and the number of injured is estimated to be more than 100.

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Qaderi said rescue efforts were being hampered by reports of another suicide bomber in the area, making police and emergency services cautious about approaching the scene.

The fighting has tempered optimism that had been tentatively growing as Afghan and global players ratchet up efforts to convince the Taliban to negotiate an end to the 17-year conflict.

Nangarhar has been a main stronghold of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters since early 2015.

"We went with other boys to see what had happened after we heard an explosion near the girls' school", 12-year-old Elyas told the agency from his hospital bed.

Afghan government forces have struggled to counter attacks from both the Taliban and the IS group since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat troops in 2014.

USA air forces have conducted a number of strikes in northern Afghanistan as the fighting has picked up in recent days, with three strikes in Sar-e Pul on Monday, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan said.

Two air strikes in Baghlan province on Tuesday followed six the day before and American advisers were on the ground supporting Afghan troops, the spokesman added.

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