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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Afghanistan: Cricket match bomb blasts kill eight

The attack happened as spectators gathered for a nighttime tournament

Militants detonated several bombs at a cricket match in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday night, killing at least eight people, according to a provincial official.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said about 45 others were wounded at the sports stadium late Friday night in the Nangahar provincial capital Jalalabad.

The attack happened as hundreds of spectators gathered for a night-time tournament during the holy month of Ramadan. Mr Khogyani said the deputy provincial mayor of neighboring Laghman province and the main organizer of the tournament were among those killed.

The attack on a cricket match is rare. The sport is one of the few unifying points in the country between government and Taliban supporters.

Atif Mashal, the chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said the attack was a blow to peace in the country.

"I strongly condemn the attacks last night during a local cricket tournament in Jalalabad, Nangarhar," he wrote on Twitter. "Cricket has been a source of happiness & pride for all Afghans, it has played a key role in bringing peace and uniting people. These attacks are against peace, unity and humanity."

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It was the first major attack in Afghanistan since the holy month of Ramadan began, and it comes after the Taliban militant group announced its annual spring offensive last month.

In a statement, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack, saying that carrying out such an attack during the holy month proved once again that terrorists are not true believers of any religion or faith and "are enemies of humanity".

The three bombs exploded nearly at the same time, Mr Khogyani said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both Taliban insurgents and ISIS are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar province.

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