Taliban suicide bombers kill 48, Afghan President unhurt

Kabul, September 17

Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 48 persons and wounded dozens more in two blasts on Tuesday — one at the President's campaign rally and the other in Kabul — with the insurgents warning of more violence ahead of elections.

The first attack saw a motorcyclist detonate a suicide bomb at a checkpoint leading to a rally where President Ashraf Ghani was addressing supporters in central Parwan province, just north of the capital, killing 26 and wounding 42.

Just over an hour later another blast also claimed by the Taliban rocked central Kabul near the US embassy. Authorities initially did not give casualty figures, but later said 22 persons had been killed and a further 38 wounded.

The explosions came after US President Donald Trump abruptly ended talks with the Taliban earlier this month over a deal that would have allowed the US to begin withdrawing troops from its longest war.

In a statement sent to media claiming responsibility for both blasts, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack near Ghani's rally was deliberately aimed at disrupting the September 28 elections. “We already warned people not to attend election rallies…if they suffer any loss that is their own responsibility.” It has vowed to intensify clashes to dissuade people from voting in the upcoming elections.

The President, who was addressing his supporters at the time of the blast, was unhurt but later condemned the attack, saying the incident proved the Taliban had no real interest in reconciliation. “As the Taliban continue their crimes, they once again prove that they are not interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Ghani said .

In a separate incident, a man on foot blew himself up in the centre of the capital Kabul, sending ambulances and Afghan forces rushing to the blast site. — AFP