Updated: May 26, 2015 9:56:43 am
A Taliban truck bomber detonated about a tonne of explosives outside a government complex in southern Afghanistan on Monday wounding more than 70 people as the summer fighting season sends civilian casualties surging.
Women and children were among those injured in the attack at the gate of the complex in Zabul province, which includes several government buildings including the provincial council.
The attack comes as the Taliban step up attacks on government and foreign targets despite Kabul’s repeated overtures to the insurgents to reopen peace negotiations.
“Seventy-three people have been wounded in the suicide attack on the complex” in the provincial capital Qalat, deputy provincial police chief Ghulam Jilani Farahi told AFP.
Provincial police chief Mirwais Noorzai said more than 70 were hurt and four of them were in critical condition.
“Around 1,000 kilograms of explosives was used in the attack,” he said.
Six police officers and four members of the provincial council were among the wounded, while other victims were government workers and nearby residents.
The Taliban, waging a 13-year war against the US-backed Afghan government, claimed responsibility.
“As part of the Azm operation, this afternoon a martyrdom-seeker… conducted an attack on the provincial council, where cruel and unjust decisions against Muslims and Islam were being taken,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in a statement.
The Afghan Taliban launched their annual spring-summer offensive — titled ‘Azm’ (Determination) — in late April, vowing nationwide attacks in what is expected to be the bloodiest fighting season in a decade
The insurgents have launched a series of attacks in the capital and around the country as NATO forces pull back from the frontlines.
A blast triggered by a Taliban car bomber ripped through the parking lot of the justice ministry in Kabul on May 19, killing four people and wounding dozens of others.
Also this month 14 people — mostly foreigners — were killed in a Taliban attack on a Kabul guest house that trapped dozens attending a concert.
Official efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have so far borne little fruit.
The surge in attacks has taken a heavy toll on civilians, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.
In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties jumped 16 percent over the same period last year, it said.
The Afghan government has drawn public criticism for its inability to end insurgent attacks — a fact partly attributed
by critics to political infighting and a lengthy delay in finalising a cabinet.
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