January 10, 2021
ISLAMABAD – A roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, early Sunday and a countermilitancy airstrike elsewhere in the war-ravaged country killed at least 15 people, including a government spokesman.
Officials said a “magnetic mine” targeted a vehicle that was transporting Zia Wadan, spokesman for the National Public Protection Force, in the country’s Interior Affairs Ministry. Two of Wadan’s colleagues were also killed while another person was injured, the statement added.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani “vehemently condemned the terrorist” act and ordered authorities to arrest those behind it, his office said.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Ghani blamed Taliban insurgents for plotting it.
“The spike in violence by the Taliban is against spirit of commitment for peace and indicates that the group still pursues their hawkish attitude to take innocent lives and damage public facilities,” the Afghan president said.
Kabul has been plagued by a wave of mostly unclaimed targeted killings of government officials, prominent journalists and civil society representatives.
Afghan authorities and the U.S. military have accused the Taliban of plotting the assassination spree, charges the insurgent group rejects.
Separately, Afghan security forces overnight carried out a counter-Taliban airstrike in the southwestern Nimruz province, killing 12 civilians and injuring several others.
The provincial council head, Baz Mohammad, told VOA the strike in Khashrod district struck a civilian home, and women as well as children were among the victims.
Nimruz’s Governor Zamarily Ahadi in a statement confirmed that the Afghan air force targeted a Taliban base in the district, killing at least 12 insurgents. The governor said that a special team has been tasked to investigate the death of civilians in the incident.
The Taliban said in a statement neither its fighters were present in the area nor the owner of the destroyed property, who was also among the dead, had any links to the insurgent group.
Sunday’s violence comes as the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government are engaged in peace talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha.
The U.S.-brokered so-called intra-Afghan dialogue, which began in September, stemmed from a landmark deal Washington signed with the Taliban in February 2020 to try to close the 19-year-old war in Afghanistan and bring home all U.S. troops.