Taliban claim twin blasts that kill four at Afghan stadium

The explosions went off at Farmers' Day event in Helmand's provincial capital that was attended by nearly 1,000 people.

    The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack in Lashkar Gah [Abdul Khaliq/AP]
    The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack in Lashkar Gah [Abdul Khaliq/AP]

    Two explosions went off inside a stadium hosting an agricultural show in southern Afghanistan killing four people and wounding 31, government officials said.

    The blasts took place in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the volatile Helmand province, as people marked Farmers' Day as part of Persian New Year celebrations, attended by nearly 1,000 people.

    Local Afghan news website TOLOnews reported that the provincial economic chief in Helmand, Mohammad Khan Nusrat, was killed in the attack.

    Helmand's governor was also at the stadium but was unhurt.

    The blasts appeared to have been caused by explosives placed in tents set up for farmers to display their products.

    The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the media.

    It said the target was top Afghan officials and claimed that no civilians were harmed in the blasts.

    Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack.

    "The terrorists are the enemies of peoples' bright future and development, they are attacking civilian installations, gatherings, and occasions to spread fear and horror, and to hide their defeats on the battlefront," Ghani said in a statement.

    Ongoing fighting

    The attack is one of several to have occurred during Afghanistan's multi-day celebrations to mark its traditional new year, beginning with explosions in the capital of Kabul on Thursday.

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    Those attacks killed six people and wounded 23 and were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group.

    Saturday's attack came exactly one year after a car bomb killed at least 14 people who had gathered to watch a wrestling match in Lashkar Gah.

    Fighting has been ongoing in Afghanistan amid recurring peace talks between US and Taliban negotiators.

    The latest round of talks wrapped up earlier this month in Doha, Qatar, with both sides saying there was progress towards ending the 17-year war.

    The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction estimated in January that the government controlled or influenced just over half the country, covering nearly two-thirds of the population.

    SOURCE: News agencies