April 5, 2016
ISLAMABAD—Officials in Afghanistan say that a suicide blast in the central Parwan province Tuesday killed at least six people and wounded at least 22 others.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi confirmed the attack in the Siah Gerd district, saying almost all the victims were civilians, including women.
He told a news conference in the capital Kabul that police identified the attacker and tried to stop him at a security checkpoint when he detonated the bomb.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but Afghan officials blame the Taliban-led insurgents for being behind such attacks.
‘Terrorist safe havens’
Without naming Pakistan, Seddiqi again blamed “terrorist safe havens” across the border for fueling the violence in Afghanistan.
“Unfortunately, our enemies are out of Afghanistan and enjoy safe havens there and those bases of terrorism have not yet been destroyed,” said the interior ministry spokesman.
Kabul insists senior Taliban leaders are sheltering and directing the Afghan insurgency from Pakistan with the help of that country’s spy agency, charges Islamabad denies.
Separately, Afghan media reported that a predawn suspected U.S. drone strike in eastern Nangarhar province killed at least six militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, including a senior commander.
Afghan security forces have struggled throughout 2015 to keep the Taliban from capturing any significant urban center. The insurgents had briefly overrun the northern city of Kunduz in September.
The U.S. commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said Monday that the international coalition is behind schedule in training and building up Afghan security forces because of intense fighting and high casualties.
General John Nicholson told Reuters that fighting the Taliban, al-Qaida and even IS militants is taking up all the time and resources of the Afghan government forces.
He said that Afghan forces lost 5,500 personnel while another 14,000 were wounded in 2015.
Internationally backed efforts to push the Taliban to the table for peace talks with the Afghan government have not succeeded so far because the insurgent group refused to attend a meeting planned last month.
Meanwhile, the second-largest Afghan insurgent group, Hezb-i-Islami, said it is no longer insisting on the withdrawal of all U.S.-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The group, which is led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has recently opened talks with Kabul. Its top negotiator Amin Karim told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the key condition has been dropped to sustain the nascent peace process.
Hekmatyar is designated a “global terrorist” by the United States and blacklisted by the United Nations.
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