Local officials say at least 30 civilians dead in Afghan-US strike which, according to the defence ministry, targeted Daesh in Nangarhar. In what has been a deadly morning for Afghanistan, a suicide truck bomb killed at least 20 people in Zabul.

A wounded man lies on a bed as he receives medical treatment at a hospital following a drone strike in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province on September 19, 2019.
A wounded man lies on a bed as he receives medical treatment at a hospital following a drone strike in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province on September 19, 2019. (AFP)

A deadly drone strike which killed and injured at least 30 people in Afghanistan's east was blamed on US forces and a powerful early-morning suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing as many as 20 people and wounding more than 90 others, Afghan officials said.

The drone attack in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province was blamed on US forces, killing and wounding as many as 30 people, most of them civilians, Jawaid Zaman, presidential adviser on tribal affairs, said. 

According to Zaman, locals had notified authorities in the area that they would be collecting dried fruit. As many as 50 people were in the fields when the aerial attack occurred, he said.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the US military in Afghanistan.

At least 30 pine nut collectors were killed and 40 others wounded in the attack, according to Ajmal Ummer, a provincial assembly member.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of the restive Nangarhar province, confirmed the strike on suspected pro-Daesh militants in the Khogyani district near Tora Bora mountains.

Khogyani said civilian casualties were feared. 

Angry residents of the area carried 12 bodies to the provincial capital Jalalabad on Thursday morning protesting the attack, provincial council head Ahmad Ali Hazrat said. 

Many more people are believed to be missing.

In southern Afghanistan,  a Taliban truck bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 95 others when it exploded near a hospital in southern Afghanistan, an official said.

The massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.

"It was horrific," said university student Atif Baloch, who saw women and children being dragged away from the scene by rescuers.

"I cannot remember a deadly attack like this in my area."
Panic also spread among residents searching for family members who were being treated at the hospital.

The Taliban, which has been carrying out nearly daily attacks since peace talks with the US collapsed earlier this month, said the target was a nearby government intelligence department building in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province.

A senior defence ministry official in Kabul said the militants wanted to target a training base for the country's powerful intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, but parked the explosives-laden vehicle outside a hospital gate nearby.

Haji Atta Jan Haqbayan, a member of the provincial council in Qalat, said 20 bodies and 95 wounded had been evacuated from the blast site.

"The number of casualties may rise, as rescue teams and people are still searching for the bodies under the rubble," he said.

Several women, children, health workers and patients in the hospital were critically injured the blast.

Residents near the blast said the explosion rattled homes and shattered windows and was followed by gunfire at around 6 am local time.

"I rushed to the scene and I am looking for them and cannot find them. My family members are missing. I don't know what to do," said shopkeeper Muqim Ahmad, adding that his wife and mother were inside the facility at the time of the blast.

More fighting 

US President Donald Trump's declaration this month that the talks were "dead" spurred the Taliban to declare last week that the only other option was more fighting, sparking fears of an uptick in attacks ahead of presidential elections at the end of the month.

Earlier this week, the Taliban killed nearly 50 people and wounded dozens more in two separate attacks – one near a campaign rally for President Ashraf Ghani in the central province of Parwan and one in Kabul.

The militants have vowed to disrupt the upcoming presidential election, scheduled for September 28, in which Ghani is taking on his own Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, and more than a dozen other candidates.

The winner is hoping for a mandate to negotiate with the Taliban for lasting peace in the country suffering from decades of violence.

The insurgents, however, are set on undermining the legitimacy of the process and keeping the president weak.

But even as fighting rages, the Taliban have also continued to voice their belief that the US will eventually return to the table for more negotiations.

Chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai reiterated that stance in an interview with the BBC earlier this week, stating "our doors are open for negotiations".

Trump has also been eager to end America's longest war, launched nearly 18 years ago after the September 11 attacks on the US.

But he has also accused the Taliban of bad faith for launching an attack in Kabul that killed a US soldier and others ahead of a scheduled sit down at Camp David that was later cancelled by Trump.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies