Afghan policemen keep watch near the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 11, 2018.
Afghan policemen keep watch near the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 11, 2018.

ISLAMABAD - A suicide bomb attack has killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 30 others in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Monday's deadly violence comes a day before government forces plan to halt offensive operations against the main Taliban insurgency across Afghanistan.

Afghan officials say the blast occurred at the entrance to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in the capital’s Darulaman area.  Ministry staff were among the victims.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

The attack occurred hours after three heavily armed suicide bombers tried to storm the education directorate building in Jalalabad, capital of eastern Nangarhar province.

Injured men receive treatment at a hospital follow
Injured men receive treatment at a hospital following a suicide attack in the city of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, June 11, 2018.

Provincial police chief Ghulam Stanikzai said one assailant blew himself up, while the other two were killed in a shootout with Afghan forces.

The bomb-and gun raid left a police officer dead and wounded 17 civilians, Stanikzai said, blaming Islamic State militants for plotting the violence.

The provincial education directorate last week prematurely closed scores of schools in Nangarhar for summer vacations, citing threats from IS.

The terrorist group maintains bases in several districts in the province, which borders Pakistan, and it routinely carries out attacks against Afghan civilian as well as military targets.

Monday’s violence came a day before the Afghan government is to suspend offensive operations against the Taliban for a week in a bid to encourage the Islamist insurgency to seek a negotiated end to the war.  The ceasefire will go into effect until June 20.

In an unprecedented reaction to the peace overture, the Taliban has also announced cessation of attacks on Afghan forces during three-day festivities of Eid al-Fitr starting from June 15.  The Muslim festival marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The Afghan government’s cease-fire excludes Islamic State and other foreign terrorist groups.  The U.S.-led foreign forces have promised to honor the truce, but the Taliban has said its ceasefire will not extend to foreign forces

“This week could prove an important trust-building exercise that contributes to future peace-making,” observed International Crisis Group while welcoming the Afghanistan cease-fire.

Taliban insurgents, meanwhile, have killed nearly 100 Afghan security forces during the past two days in surprise attacks in several provinces, including Kandahar, Kunduz and Herat.  Afghan authorities also claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on the the Taliban in retaliatory military operations.