Suicide bombing kills 9, wounds 23 in northern Afghanistan

Suicide bomb attack kills nine people, wounds 23 others in northern Afghanistan in aftermath of peace talks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An Afghan National Army officer escorts a slightly injured boy from the site of a suicide attack on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, February 8, 2016.

Two suicide bombers targeting Afghan government and military employees killed at least nine people on Monday and wounded 23, officials said.

Six civilians died and nine were injured in a blast outside a bakery shop in Yahyakhil district of Paktika Province, an area near Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, district governor Musa Khan Kharuti said.

Earlier in the day, three people were killed in an attack on a bus carrying Afghan Army personnel in Dehdadi District, not far from the Balkh provincial capital of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, said the Ministry of Defence.

The ministry put the number of wounded at eight, while Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman for the Balkh provincial governor, said that 14 = including three women - had been injured.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in an email to the media. Mujahid’s statement named a resident of the Wardak Province, which neighbours the Afghan capital city of Kabul, as the attacker.

Taliban militants have intensified their attacks across the country against Afghan security forces in the year since the international combat mission wound down.

In a seperate incident which occured in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Monday, a presidential palace guard was killed by unknown gunmen, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Khogyani added that the man was shot inside his house and his mother was also wounded in the attack.

"An investigation is underway by police to find out who is behind this attack," Khogyani said.

Afghan military and government employees are common targets for militant groups like the Taliban since the country was driven into a civil war 15 years ago, when the Taliban government was toppled by US-led NATO forces.

On Saturday, representatives from the United States, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan held a third round of talks in the Pakistani capital Islamabad in an effort to create a roadmap for peace between the Taliban and Afghan government.

Although the Taliban refused to attend the peace talks - which first started in 2015 - stating that they first want to have talks with US officials, the four countries released a joint statement on Saturday saying that they "agreed to continue joint efforts for setting a date for direct peace talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban groups expected to take place by the end of February 2016."

TRTWorld and agencies