IS claims responsibility for deadly Afghan bombing

Updated 30 April 2015

IS claims responsibility for deadly Afghan bombing

KABUL: The Islamic State (IS) group claimed to have carried out a deadly suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan Saturday that killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, in what, if verified, would be the first major attack claimed by the terrorist group in the country.
"Who claimed responsibility for horrific attack in Nangarhar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack," President Ghani said on a visit to northeastern Badakhshan province.
A person purporting to be an IS spokesman said in a call to AFP that the group claimed responsibility for the bombing outside a bank in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
An online posting allegedly from the group made the same claim, which could not be immediately verified.
"Thirty-three dead bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to the hospital," Dr Najeebullah Kamawal, head of the provincial hospital, told AFP.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a provincial government spokesman, confirmed the attack — the deadliest since November.
"The explosion happened outside the bank when government employees and civilians were collecting their monthly salaries," he told AFP.
The UN gave a higher toll, saying 35 people had been killed.
President Ghani strongly condemned the attack, which saw children among those killed, his office said in a statement.
"Carrying out terrorist attacks in cities and public places are the most cowardly acts of terror by terrorists targeting innocent civilians," President Ghani said.
The scene of the attack showed the gruesome scale of the carnage with people lying in pools of blood and body parts scattered across the ground.
The bombing comes as Afghanistan braces for what is expected to be a bloody push by the Taliban at the start of the fighting season.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility.
The militants have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets since Washington backpedalled on plans to shrink the US force in Afghanistan this year by nearly half.
The Taliban have seen defections to IS in recent months, with some insurgents voicing their disaffection with their one-eyed supreme leader Mullah Omar, who has not been seen since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The Afghan government has also raised the ominous prospect of IS making inroads into the country, though the group that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan.


Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

Updated 11 September 2018

Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

  • More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show
  • About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions

MONTREAL: Cirque du Soleil will stage a show in Saudi Arabia for the first time later this month, the high-flying acrobatic troupe announced Monday.
The show will take place in the Saudi capital on Sept. 23 to coincide with the country's national day, public relations director Marie-Helene Lagace told AFP.
More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show, which will also be shown on Saudi state television. Cirque says it will be one of its biggest one-off productions ever.
About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions and conform to "the artistic standards for which we are known," Lagace said.
The announcement of Cirque du Soleil's appearance in Saudi Arabia was first made in Los Angeles in April, Lagace noted. But it was unclear whether the show would go on given the diplomatic tensions.
At the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has reopened movie theaters and allowed women and men to attend some concerts together.