A man removes broken glass from a window after multiple explosions in Afghanistan. Reuters
LASHKAR GAH: Two explosions went off at a public celebration in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah on Saturday, killing two people and wounding the governor of Helmand province, security and hospital officials said.
The blasts came during a Farmers Day celebration at an outdoor stadium that was attended by nearly 1,000 people.
The provincial governor, Mohammad Yasin Khan, was knocked over by the blasts before he was quickly removed from the celebration, according to a Reuters witness. The governor’s condition was unclear.
Two people were killed and 23 were wounded, according to initial estimates by hospital officials.
The blasts appeared to have been caused by planted explosives.
The attack is one of several to occur during Afghanistan’s multi-day celebrations to mark its traditional new year, beginning with explosions in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday. Those attacks killed six people and wounded 23 and were claimed by Islamic State.
The traditional new year is widely celebrated in Afghanistan but some hardline Islamists oppose the festivities, saying they are un-Islamic.
Helmand is one of several Afghan provinces in which insurgents have the greatest control and influence. Lashkar Gah is the provincial capital.
Saturday’s attack came exactly one year after a car bomb killed at least 14 people who had gathered to watch a wrestling match in Lashkar Gah.
Multiple explosions in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday killed six people and wounded 23 in an attack during celebrations to mark the Persian new year, government spokesmen said.
The blasts came during a Farmers Day celebration in the southern city that was attended by nearly 1,000 people.
The roadside bombs were spaced within 10-20 metres of one another, said Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz. The wounded child is a 12-year-old girl, he said, and added that the police are searching the area where the bombs struck.
In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed concern over escalating violence in Afghanistan during the past weeks.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper will meet their Indian counterparts for strategic and security talks on Tuesday, after which Pompeo will travel on to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.
The number of deaths over 24 hours has remained broadly stable since the beginning of autumn, with between 700 and 800. On Saturday the US recorded 906 deaths, the Johns Hopkins tracker showed.
The World Health Organization has warned of an "exponential" rise in infections threatening health systems' ability to cope with a second wave of the pandemic, testing many nations that appeared to have the virus under control earlier this year.