Kabul, Jul 20 (efe-epa).- At least eight soldiers of the Afghan National Army were killed on Monday and nine other injured in a Taliban suicide attack in which the insurgent group detonated a truck laden with explosives as a military convoy was passing by.
“A suicide bomber, who was driving a truck full of explosives, detonated them near the vehicles of the convoy of the national army. Unfortunately, in this attack eight members of the national army were martyred and another nine injured,” the Afghan defense ministry said in a statement.
The attack took place on Monday evening in the Sayed Abad district of the southern Maidan Wardak province. In a statement, Taliban spokesperson Zabuhullah Mujahid, took responsibility for the attack, which targeted soldiers returning from military operations in the southern Ghazni province.
“Based on initial information, in this attack 48 soldiers and officers of the enemy were killed and injured and seven of their military vehicles were destroyed” Mujahid claimed, identifying the suicide bomber as Abdullah Ghaznawi.
In recent weeks the Taliban have intensified attacks against Afghan security forces after a brief ceasefire in late May – after almost two decades of war – to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
In his statement, Mujahid justified the attacks and blamed the Afghan government for “delaying” the process of freeing prisoners and trying to “prevent the start of intra-Afghan talks and a nationwide peace.”
The spike in Taliban violence comes amid attempts by Kabul and the insurgents to kick off peace negotiations in Qatar in an unprecedented dialog that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan expects to take place later this month.
The intra-Afghan dialog was originally scheduled to start in March, soon after the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement on February 29 that includes the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan within 14 months.
However, the dialog has been delayed due to Kabul and the rebels being unable to agree on the process of a prisoner swap in which the government is expected to free 5,000 Taliban fighters in exchange for the release of around 1,000 government troops detained by the militants. EFE /EPA