1149 GMT July 04, 2022
Taliban members 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, Reuters reported.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. “Dozens of NDS officers were killed or wounded,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
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 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 US efforts toward an agreement to end the 18-year war that a US-led coalition launched in 2001 under the guise of the war on terror. But the terrorist group has only boosted their campaign of violence across the country, targeting both civilians and security forces in bloody assaults.
The attack came hours before Taliban officials began meeting a group of Afghan delegates in Qatar as part of diplomatic efforts to end years of violence and build trust between Afghan civilians and the group.
Dozens of powerful Afghans including bitter rivals met the Taliban in Doha on Sunday, discussing a possible cease-fire and the future of women and minorities after 18 years of conflict, AFP reported.
Washington has said it wants to seal a political deal with the Taliban ahead of Afghan presidential polls due in September to allow foreign forces to begin to withdraw.
Security was tight at the luxury hotel hosting the intra-Afghan summit as around 70 delegates, who were required to surrender their phones, filed into the hall. They sat in a vast semi-circle facing a large video screen and the hosts from Qatar and Germany.
Leading figures were attending the separate intra-Afghan talks, including political heavyweights, government officials, at least six women and other Afghan stakeholders.
The US is not participating directly in the two-day summit although US lead negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad did pass by the hall hosting the Afghan talks.
"The aim is to get to negotiate to agree on terms for peace among themselves," he told AFP.
The Taliban, who have steadfastly refused to negotiate with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, have stressed that those attending are only doing so in a "personal capacity."
Ghani's administration has also been excluded from the direct US-Taliban talks.
Sunday's gathering was the third such meeting following similar summits in Moscow in February and May.