At Least 25 Dead After Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan

A suicide bomber attacked Afghan security forces near the Defense Ministry building in Kabul Saturday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 13 others, said police officials.

That followed an earlier bombing in Kunar province that killed at least 13 and wounded more than 40 others

Witnesses in Kabul saw rescue workers transporting dead and wounded to hospitals in the capital city immediately after the bombing.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA the insurgent group carried out the Kabul bombing, and claimed it killed 23 army officers and wounded many others. The Taliban often gives inflated tolls in such attacks.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said two soldiers were among the dead in the Kabul blast.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah issued a statement condemning the violence, saying “peace talks and violence against Afghans cannot go along.”

He was referring to direct negations the government is expected to hold with Taliban and other insurgent groups in neighboring Pakistan next week.

“Insurgents must choose peace over violence and be part of the future,” he added.

Blast in Asadabad kills 13

In Kunar province, witnesses said a bomber riding a motorbike blew himself up near the entrance to the governor’s office in Asadabad, the provincial capital.

An anti-Taliban local militia commander, identified as Malik Khan Jan, is among those killed in that explosion.

Authorities say the attack mostly caused civilian casualties, including children who were either passersby or playing in the nearby park. Seven seriously wounded victims have been taken to a hospital in nearby Nangarhar province.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the Kunar attack.

“UNAMA reiterates that the indiscriminate use of explosives in areas crowded by civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” it said in a statement, and reminded all parties to the conflict of their legal obligation to avoid harm to civilians.

Taliban spokesman Mujahid suggested the group was not behind the suicide blast in Kunar, telling VOA “We have contacted our Mujahideen (fighters) in in the region but they have no knowledge of who carried out the attack.”

Critics of the Afghan insurgency believe the Taliban usually distances itself from attacks that cause civilian casualties.

The United Nations in its annual report released last week said the conflict-related violence in Afghanistan caused record 11,000 civilian casualties, including around 3,500 dead in 2015. The U.N. report blamed the Taliban insurgency for causing 62 percent of the causalities.

In another development Saturday, military officials in restive southern Helmand province told VOA that Afghan special forces overnight raided and freed 35 inmates, including women and children, from a Taliban-held prison in the Nadali district.

There was no immediate reaction from the insurgent group.

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