Jalalabad: An explosion hit the centre of the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 19 people, including several members of the small Sikh minority, provincial government officials said.

The blast, hours after President Ashraf Ghani had opened a hospital in Jalalabad, damaged shops, and buildings around Mukhaberat square in the city, said governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani, according to a report of The Wire.

Ghulam Sanayi Stanekzai, police chief of Nangarhar said the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who targeted a vehicle carrying members of the Sikh minority who were travelling to meet the president. Officials said at least 10 of the dead were Sikhs. Afghanistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation but a small number of Hindus and Sikhs remain in the country.

Inaamullah Miakhel, a spokesman for the provincial health department of Nangarhar, said 19 people had been killed and 20 wounded. Officials said the casualty total might have been even higher had much of the city not been blocked off for Ghani’s visit. He was not in the area when the blast occurred.

Avtar Singh Khalsa, the man who was going to represent Afghanistan’s tiny Sikh and Hindu minority in the next parliament, also lost his life in the attack.