A suicide bomber blew himself up in an Afghan city of Jalalabad, where President Ashraf Ghani was to hold a meeting with provincial officials, killing at least 19 people, many of them Sikhs, officials said on Sunday.

The group of Sikhs was said to be on their way to meet President Ghani.

Provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani confirmed the casualties and said it had been a suicide bombing. Khogyani did not provide more information about the blast, TOLONews reported.

Media reports suggest that at least 12 of the 19 victims belonged to minority communities.

Avtar Singh Khalsa, a leader belonging to the Sikh community, was also killed in the attack. Khalsa was expected to represent minorities in the upcoming parliamentary elections in October.

afghanistan suicde bombing
Afghan police officers keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan June 4, 2018. [ Representational image]REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

The media reported that the explosion happened close to the governor's compound. Security forces immediately cordoned off the area and ambulances were seen carrying the victims to the hospital.

Ghani on Sunday attended the inauguration of a new hospital complex in Jalalabad and also met with local officials. The President is only due to leave the province on Monday.

They were discussing ways and means to bolster the government-initiated peace process to encourage the Taliban to initiate a dialogue with the government to end the country's lingering crisis.

[Source- IANS]