Suicide attacks kill dozens in Afghanistan

Taliban claims bombing outside defence ministry in Kabul, just hours after militia commander’s death in blast in Kunar.

Suicide bomb blast in Kabul
Police said most of the dead in Saturday's attack outside the defence ministry in Kabul were civilians [EPA]

More than 20 people have been killed and many more wounded in separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

In the latest attack, at least 12 people were killed in front of the defence ministry building in Kabul, according to a statement released by the ministry.

Officials had a slightly lower death toll from Saturday’s bombing.

“Nine people were killed and 13 were wounded,” Abdul Rahman Rahimi, Kabul’s police chief, said at the scene of the blast, which occurred as offices closed for the day.

“Most of them were civilians.”

The Taliban claimed responsibility.

‘Civilians’ among victims

In the day’s first attack, a suicide blast in Kunar province in the east killed at least 13 people and injured 40 others.

Wahidullah Kalimzai, Kunar governor, said the bomber rode up on a motorcycle to the entrance of the government compound in the town of Asadabad and blew himself up.

“Most of victims were civilians and children who were either passing by or playing in the park,” Kalimzai told Reuters news agency.

UN: More than 11,000 Afghans killed in 2015

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the apparent target of the attack, a tribal elder and militia commander named Haji Khan Jan, was among the dead.

Jan was reportedly involved in a number of operations against the Taliban in his district last year.

“The Taliban – these insurgent groups – are still active in parts of Afghanistan and they are going after some significant targets,” Al Jazeera’s Reza Sayah reported from Kabul.

“This is a big get for insurgents.”

The Afghan branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group also operates in Kunar. 

The attacks come as officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China are pressing for a resumption of the peace talks with the Taliban.

But it remains unclear whether the Taliban will take part in direct peace talks that the four-nation group hope will be held in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, as early as next week.

In a statement issued after the Kunar attack, President Ashraf Ghani said his government would not conduct peace talks with groups that killed innocent people and said security forces would step up the “fight against terrorism”.

There was no immediate claim of responsbility for the Kunar attack but the Taliban and an ISIL branch are active in the province [EPA]There was no immediate claim of responsbility for the Kunar attack but the Taliban and an ISIL branch are active in the province [EPA]

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters


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