A car bomb in central has killed at least 14 people, including eight members of the security forces and six civilians, as well as injuring more than 180, many of them students attending a nearby school.
Islamist Taliban fighters detonated a car bomb in Ghazni city near an office of Afghanistan’s main intelligence service, the national directorate of security (NDS), during Sunday morning’s rush hour, officials said.
US peace envoy hails latest talks with Taliban as 'most productive' to date
The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying in a statement dozens of NDS officers were killed or wounded.
The attack took place as Taliban officials and a selected group of Afghan activists and civil society figures prepared to meet in Doha, casting a pall over talks intended to open the way for full peace negotiations in the future.
“It is unfathomable to endanger children in this way and I strongly condemn this attack,” US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, tweeted.
Health officials in Ghazni said 13 adults, including eight NDS members, and a child were killed. At least 60 children who were attending classes in a private school situated near the blast site were among the 180 people wounded.
Doors and windows of the school were destroyed in the powerful explosion, the children suffered multiple injuries caused by flying shards of glass and broken pieces of wood.
“The casualty figures may rise as this is not the last report of those injured in the powerful blast,” said Zaher Shah Nekmal, a health director in Ghazni province.
The blast was the latest in a wave of near-daily attacks by the Taliban, who now hold sway over about half of Afghanistan and continue to intensify attacks on Afghan forces despite increased US efforts towards a peace agreement to end the 18-year war.
The Taliban, who have repeatedly refused to negotiate with the western-backed government of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, agreed to join the intra-Afghan summit on the condition that those there would attend in a personal capacity.
About 60 high-profile Afghan figures and activists were in Doha to meet the Taliban officials during the two-day conference, a meeting arranged by German and Qatari officials with the support of U.S. negotiators.
US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the latest round of talks with the Taliban, also in Doha, .