Kabul, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- At least three people died and 14 others were wounded in a suicide attack by the Taliban using a truck bomb in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Wednesday, officials said.
The incident occurred around 3.30 am local time in Shah-Walikot district at the premises of the district police headquarters and district governor’s office, according to Kandahar governor’s spokesperson Bahir Ahmadi.
“As a result of the bombing three of our policemen were martyred and 14 people including civilians were injured,” Ahmadi told EFE.
The insurgents used a stolen military truck, which was packed with explosives and was detonated just outside the government buildings.
The spokesperson added that owing to the intensity of the blast, “the police building and the governor office buildings were partially damaged.”
He further revealed that the attacker wanted to take the truck inside the buildings, but had to detonate the explosives much earlier on being deterred by the police, who had prior intelligence about the attack.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The district police headquarters building, which was used as base for the forces who were conducting military operations in surroundings areas, was completely destroyed in the big explosion,” Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf Ahmadi told EFE.
He added that based on their preliminary information, “up to 20 members of the police including the district police chief” were among the casualties, and that vehicles and weapons inside the buildings were also destroyed.
However, officials usually dismiss the insurgent group’s combat claims as highly exaggerated.
This was the first major attack of this scale carried out by the Taliban in recent weeks, particularly after a brief three-day ceasefire in May on the occasion of the Eid-al-Fitr festival – marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The reduction in violence following the ceasefire sought to clear the path towards the commencement of the intra-Afghan talks to usher in peace in the country along the lines of an agreement signed between the US and the Taliban on Feb.29 in the Qatari capital of Doha.
According to the agreement, Washington would pull its troops out of Afghanistan by mid-2021 in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.
However, the intra-Afghan talks, originally scheduled to begin on Mar.10, have been delayed by disagreements between the insurgents and the government at Kabul regarding a prisoner swap process, a precondition for starting the talks.
Afghan and Taliban officials have been holding negotiations to complete the exchange of 5,000 Taliban prisoners for 1,000 Afghan security forces captured by the insurgents so that the talks may begin.
So far the government has released more than 4,000 captured Taliban fighters from prisons, while the insurgents have freed around 700 government troops in captivity.
The first meeting of the talks is expected to take place sometime this month in Qatar. EFE-EPA