Afghanistan: Several dead, wounded in two explosions | Asia

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Taliban claims responsibility for bombs placed inside the car and the guesthouse of a pro-government commander identified as Nazar Gul.

At least three people were killed and 17 others were wounded in two back-to-back explosions in Afghanistan’s northern province of Balkh.

The incident happened on Thursday in Shulgara district at approximately 11am (06:30 GMT), the provincial governor’s spokesman, Munir Ahmad Farhad, told the dpa news agency.

According to the official, the blasts happened as a result of two bombs placed inside the vehicle and the guesthouse of a well-known pro-government commander in the district.

The local commander identified as Nazar Gul and 16 of his armed men were wounded in the explosions, while his son and two of his guests were killed, Farhad said.

Local officials described Gul as an anti-Taliban figure who has played an important role in the mobilisation of people in support of the central government in the district.

The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet, saying they were planning an operation.

Taliban fighters are active in the province and usually carry out attacks on pro-government forces.

Although the government in Kabul and the Taliban launched unprecedented peace talks in September, fighting has raged across the country as the Taliban has launched devastating attacks on provincial capitals and security installations, with fears the violence may jeopardise negotiations.

Attacks against Afghan forces and civilians were 50 percent higher in the three months to the end of September when compared with the previous quarter, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in its quarterly report to the US Congress.

The watchdog reported 2,561 civilian casualties this quarter, including 876 deaths, up 43 percent from the April-June period.

Afghan journalists film inside a classroom after the attack at the Kabul University, Afghanistan, where 22 students were killed earlier this week [File: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The report’s publication comes as scattered calls to boycott the continuing peace talks have been raised following back-to-back attacks on education centres in Kabul claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group, but which some government officials insist were carried out by the Taliban.

Earlier this week, at least 22 students were killed at the Kabul University in an attack claimed by ISIL.

Little progress has been made in meetings between Afghan government negotiators and the Taliban since the talks started on September 12, with negotiations stalled over the basic framework of talks and an agenda still undecided.

Both sides have routinely accused each other of upping hostilities and killing civilians.

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