A suicide car bomber has targeted the convoy of a provincial governor in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least eight people, including four civilians, government officials have said.
At least 30 others were also wounded in the incident, which took place in eastern Laghman province’s capital, Mehtarlam, Afghanistan’s interior ministry said on Monday.
The condition of the governor, Rahmatullah Yarmal, was not immediately known and officials would not confirm local reports that he was slightly wounded in the bombing. Yarmal escaped unharmed, a provincial police spokesperson said.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said four of Yarmal’s bodyguards had been killed in the bombing. He said the wounded included 28 civilians and two other guards.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident. Both the Taliban and ISIL (ISIS) armed groups are active in the area.
The Taliban group has carried out assassinations of high-profile Afghan officials recently, while both groups attack government representatives, national security and defence personnel as well as civilians.
According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), at least 1,282 civilians were killed and 2,176 others wounded in the first six months of this year.
Attack amid Doha talks
Violence in Afghanistan has not abated even as representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban are holding intra-Afghan negotiations in Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office.
The negotiations are meant to end the country’s decades-long long war, following a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban, signed in February in Qatar’s capital, Doha.
The talks that started last month in Doha aim at reaching an agreement on a reduction of violence and a possible new power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is travelling to Qatar on Monday for a bilateral meeting with Qatari leaders but will not hold a meeting with Taliban officials even as peace talks are under way in Doha, officials said.
“Several meetings are planned to discuss efforts for deepening Afghanistan-Qatar ties and mutual cooperation in various areas,” a close aide to Ghani told Reuters news agency, adding that Ghani will also meet the Afghan representatives who are holding talks with Taliban.
“But it is clear that Ghani will not meet the Taliban officials as there has been no reduction of violence and they continue to kill innocent civilians,” a senior western diplomat overseeing the ongoing peace process told Reuters.
So far, there has been no progress in the Doha negotiations as the warring Afghan sides have become bogged down on processes and procedures, diplomatic sources said.