Kabul, May 18 (efe-epa).- At least nine people were killed and around 40 wounded early on Monday in a suicide blast by the Taliban near a security base in the southern Afghan province of Ghazni, officials said.
“Taliban terrorists today morning, in a series of their crimes in this holy month of Ramadan, carried out a truck bombing against the Islamic Cultural Center in Ghazni city (situated next to the military base), in which nine persons were martyred,” interior ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said in a statement.
The suicide bomber was also killed in the attack, while the Ghazni governor’s office said in a statement that around 40 people had been injured.
According to the statement, the attacker detonated a stolen Humvee truck laden with explosives near the base of the National Directorate of Security – the country’s main intelligence agency – at around 4.40 am.
An aide to the governor confirmed to EFE on the condition of anonymity that nearly all of the casualties were security forces members. Eight of those injured were in a critical condition while the rest were stable and undergoing treatment.
The impact of the “powerful blast” shattered window panes of houses even as far as two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the attack site.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement saying “tens” of security forces members were killed and injured in the attack.
In this attack, “tens of security personnel of the stooge enemy were killed and injured, while several of their military vehicles also destroyed,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
Mujahid claimed the attack was a part of a fresh campaign in response to “offensive operations” carried out by the security forces on the orders of President Ashraf Ghani.
Last week, Ghani ordered Afghan forces to end their defensive posture and go on the offensive against militants, after 56 civilians were killed in two separate attacks by insurgents in Kabul and eastern Nangarhar province. The government had blamed the Taliban for the incidents, but the group denied being responsible for them.
Moreover, the latest suicide attack comes a day after Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the runner-up in September’s presidential elections, reached an agreement to end months of stalemate over the outcome of the polls.
The deal, whose details were yet to be revealed, was struck after Ghani suggested Abdullah should lead peace negotiations with the Taliban, aimed at ending a two-decade war.
Abdullah had announced a parallel government after rejecting the results of the controversial elections, marred by fraud allegations.
The political crisis sparked fears that the intra-Afghan peace process could fail even after a historic deal was reached on Feb. 29 between the United States and the Taliban, guaranteeing the departure of foreign troops from the country within 14 months.
The beginning of the talks between Kabul and the rebels is subject to the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters imprisoned by the government and 1,000 personnel of the Afghan forces held in the insurgents’ prisons, according to the Doha deal.
The tricky prisoner swap got underway in early April, but disagreements between both parties and continuing violence in the country have cast a shadow over the process. EFE-EPA