At least 12 people are dead and more than 40 wounded in attacks that come during a Taliban delegation visit to Pakistan to discuss starting Afghan peace talks.

Relatives of the wounded react to news of the blast in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan on  August 25, 2020.
Relatives of the wounded react to news of the blast in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan on August 25, 2020. (Reuters)

A wave of attacks across Afghanistan has left at least 12 people dead and wounded scores, including a Taliban truck bombing in the country's north that targeted a commando base for Afghan forces.

The violence comes as expectations had been rising that negotiations could soon get underway between the Afghan government and the Taliban militant group. 

The truck suicide bomber struck in northern Balkh province, killing three people, including two Afghan commandos and a civilian, according to Munir Ahmad Farhad, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

According to Hanif Rezaie, the spokesman for the Afghan army corps in the north, initial military reports said at least six commandos and around 35 civilians were wounded in that explosion, which also destroyed or damaged dozens of nearby civilians houses.

“Most of the wounded civilians are women and children,” said Rezaie. 

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the Balkh attack in a tweet, claiming that "tens" of military personnel were killed. The Taliban often exaggerates its battlefield claims.

READ MORE: Taliban delegation arrive in Pakistan for talks

Taliban in Pakistan for peace talks 

The blast came as a Taliban delegation visited the Pakistani capital to discuss a peace process underpinned by an agreement between the Taliban and the US on the withdrawal of US forces in exchange for Taliban security guarantees and a promise to open power-sharing talks with the government.

But despite what many Afghans see as the best hope for peace since the latest phase of Afghanistan's war began in 2001, the level of violence has remained high.

Diplomats and officials say the violence is sapping the trust needed for talks.

The government has asked repeatedly for a ceasefire before negotiations start in Qatar's capital of Doha, a request the Taliban has refused.

Diplomats say Pakistan, which has long had influence over different Afghan factions, including the Taliban, has in recent months been pushing for a reduction in violence.

It was not immediately clear what issues would be discussed in the talks between the Taliban and the Pakistanis in Islamabad.

READ MORE: Afghanistan orders release of 500 Taliban inmates 

Eight troops killed in Ghor province

Also on Tuesday, an attack on a checkpoint of pro-government forces in western Ghor province killed at least eight troops and wounded five, Arif Aber, spokesman for the provincial governor, said.

The attack in Shahrak district set off five hours of gun battle.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for that attack, but authorities blamed the Taliban, who have claimed numerous past attacks on security checkpoints in Ghor.

Kabul roadside bombing 

In the capital of Kabul, a roadside bombing killed a police officer while a policewoman and her driver were wounded when unknown attackers opened fire on them, said Ferdaws Faramarz, spokesman for the Kabul police chief.

The policewomen, Saba Saher, is also a well-known actress, and she was said to be in stable condition following the shooting.

No one claimed the attacks in Kabul, but both the Taliban and the Daesh terrorists are active in the capital, though Daesh has claimed the bulk of the attacks in the city in recent months.

Afghanistan's defence ministry released a statement late on Monday saying 91 Taliban fighters were killed during an air and ground operation by Afghan army troops trying to open the highway between northern Kunduz to Khanabad districts. 

The statement said 50 other Taliban were wounded in the fighting and that the highway was later reopened for traffic.

The Taliban are at their strongest since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled their regime, which had harboured al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The group now control or hold sway over about half of Afghanistan.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies