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KABUL: The death toll from a suicide attack at a protest gathering in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar at Afghan protesters has soared to 68, officials said Wednesday, as violence flares across the country ahead of elections and Muharram.
Another 165 were wounded in the blast — one of the deadliest attacks this year — on Tuesday in the eastern province of Nangarhar, provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said.
However, security officials have warned that similar attacks are likely if crowds gather for campaign rallies ahead of parliamentary elections in October.
The suicide bomber set off explosives in a crowd of hundreds of people protesting on the main road to the border crossing into neighboring Pakistan. They were protesting against a police commander.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the massacre.
The provincial governor’s spokesman, Attahullah Khogyani, issued a statement with a revised casualty total on Wednesday after earlier estimates put the death toll at 32.
The Nangarhar health department confirmed the toll.
Scores of demonstrators had blocked the highway between the provincial capital of Jalalabad and a major border crossing with Pakistan in protest over the appointment of a local police chief when the suicide bomber blew himself up.
The dead and wounded were rushed to several hospitals in the back of pickup trucks and ambulances, overwhelming doctors and nurses as they struggled to cope with the huge number of casualties.