|[Published: Sunday July 07 2019]
Taliban car bomb kills 14
KABUL 7 Jul (ANA) - Taliban fighters have killed at least eight security personnel and six civilians in a car bomb attack in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, according to government officials and the Taliban.
The sucide attack on Sunday came as an all-Afghan peace conference, which includes the Taliban, began in Qatar in an effort to end years of violence and build trust between Afghan civilians and the armed group.
Afghan officials said the bomb targeted the country's main intelligence unit, National Directorate of Security (NDS).
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.
"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 Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Dozens of NDS officers were killed or wounded," the group's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
The blast in a crowded area of Ghazni city 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 United States 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 in the Qatari capital, Doha, 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 US negotiators.
US-Taliban peace talks in Doha have been paused for two days to allow the intra-Afghan summit to take place. US and Taliban officials will reconvene on Tuesday.
The warring sides started a seventh round of peace talks last week, which US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, described on Twitter on Saturday as the most productive session to date.
He said substantive progress had been made on all four parts of a peace deal: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, participation in intra-Afghan negotiations, and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
Military conflict and attacks on civilians have intensified even as the diplomatic process gains momentum, triggering tremendous unease among some Afghans about the significance of holding peace talks with the Taliban.(ANA)
FA/ANA/7 July 2019------