An Afghan security personnel keeps watch on a tower as the Afghan national flag flutters at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. AFP
Gunmen killed 14 people in two separate attacks in Afghanistan while the Taliban targeted pro-government checkpoints in the northeast, killing nine militiamen, officials said Wednesday, the latest in relentless violence that continues to plague the war-torn nation.
The attacks came against the backdrop of renewed UN calls for an end to violence and as Washington’s special peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, embarked on another round of talks with the Taliban to press them to start negotiating with the newly reconciled Afghan political leadership in Kabul.
In Parwan province, north of the capital, Kabul, an unknown number of gunmen stormed a mosque late on Tuesday, killing 11 worshipers and wounding several others, said Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor. Reports earlier in the day had eight killed.
Also late on Tuesday, gunmen in eastern Khost province attacked a family returning home from a nearby mosque, killing three brothers, according to Adil Haidari, spokesman for the provincial police chief. In both attacks, the gunmen fled the scene.
No one claimed responsibility for either attack but the Taliban promptly denied involvement. The Daesh group, which has been increasingly active in Afghanistan after suffering battlefield losses to government and US forces, as well as its Taliban rivals, has carried out similar attacks in the past.
Washington blamed the Daesh for last week’s horrific attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul that killed 24 people, including two infants.
In a third attack, the Taliban targeted checkpoints belonging to a local pro-government militia in northeastern Takhar province, killing nine militiamen, said Khalil Aser, spokesman for the provincial police chief.
Aser said that attack took place in the Khwaja Bahuddin district, also late on Tuesday, and in addition to the nine killed, left six militiamen wounded. When reinforcement arrived at the scene, the insurgents fled the area, he said. There was no immediate statement from the Taliban.
Thursday's massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.
President Ashraf Ghani's comments came as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people, including children, killed in the Kabul bombing at a wedding hall late on Saturday.
The Nato Resolute Support mission announced their deaths first, providing no details about what happened and saying that their names would be withheld for 24 hours until their families could be notified.
A truck packed with explosives blew up near a court in the eastern Afghan city of Gardez on Thursday, killing at least five people, two days after gunmen attacked a maternity ward in the capital Kabul, killing women and newborn babies.
The police have been sharing accident videos to educate the members of the public on the dire consequences of such wrong practices.
The authorities said, “The rate of positive cases from tests remains 1%, similar to the previous week."
A deep depression over southwest Bay of Bengal has moved west-northwestwards on Tuesday, and has intensified into Cyclonic Storm Nivar, officials at the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) in Chennai said.