Officials say the attack took place in northern Sar-i-Pul province in which an Afghan Taliban commander was also killed. Separately, officials say Afghan forces freed at least 54 people from a Taliban prison in southern Helmand province.

Taliban fighters ride in their vehicle in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Taliban fighters ride in their vehicle in Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

A Daesh suicide bomber has killed 20 people in northern Afghanistan, including an Afghan Taliban commander, Afghan officials said on Tuesday.

Abdul Qauom Baqizoi, provincial chief police of northern Sar-i-Pul province, said the attack took place as village elders met with Taliban officials in the area.

In northern Afghanistan, Taliban and Daesh have been fighting each other for influence and territory, and as many as 100 insurgents from both sides have perished in recent battles, said Baqizoi.

Provincial council chief Mohammed Noor Rahman said the explosion occurred in a mosque as a funeral was taking place.

The area is remote and it was impossible to reconcile the differing accounts.

Prisoners freed from Taliban jail

Meanwhile, at least 54 people, including security personnel and civilians, were freed from a Taliban prison in southern Helmand province, a provincial official said on Tuesday.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the prisoners were freed after a commando unit raided the prison late Monday night in Musa Qala district.

Zwak said there were 32 civilians, 16 police, four soldiers and two military doctors who had been locked up by the insurgents. He said security forces were still securing the area.

The Afghan Taliban did not immediately comment on the raid, but the insurgents are in control of the majority of the districts in Helmand, where they have increased their attacks against provincial officials and security forces.

While the Taliban are Afghanistan's largest insurgent group and holds or contests more territory than any other, Daesh has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to carry out devastating attacks in urban areas.

The Taliban have rejected talks with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which they see as illegitimate and instead insisted they would only talk with the United States to end over a 17-year-old conflict. 

Washington has insisted the Afghan government be involved.

US not ready for talks with Taliban

Meanwhile, the New York Times on Sunday reported that the administration of President Donald Trump had told its top diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban.

But on Monday, NATO's Afghanistan mission denied reports that its commander has said America is ready to join direct talks with the Taliban.

"The United States is not a substitute for the Afghan people or the Afghan government," US General John Nicholson said in the statement released by NATO's Resolute Support mission.

The Taliban has been rampant in recent years. Trump in 2017 reluctantly agreed to commit thousands more US troops to the 17-year-old fight.

But Afghan security forces have been struggling to beat back the Taliban insurgents amid desertions, killings and corruption.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies