ISLAMABAD - Updated, July 7, 2019, 5:29 a.m.
Officials in Afghanistan say the Taliban has detonated a vehicle-borne bomb near the national spy agency’s office in the central eastern Ghazni city.
A provincial health directorate spokesman, Mohammad Hemat, confirmed that Sunday’s blast killed at least 12 people, including civilians, and injured more than 180 others.
Mohammad Khalid Wardak, provincial police chief, told VOA that dozens of the wounded were students heading to schools when the attack happened.
A Taliban spokesman, while claiming responsibility for the bombing, said the powerful blast destroyed an important facility of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), inflicting heavy casualties.
Ghazni is the capital of the Afghan province with the same name and is on a main road linking northern and southern provinces. Many districts of Ghazni are controlled or strongly contested by the Taliban.
Attack in Kabul
Sunday’s bombing came just days after a group of Taliban fighters, including suicide bombers, stormed the engineering and logistics center of the Afghan Defense Ministry in the national capital, Kabul. That attack also began with a massive car bombing and killed around 30 people, mostly security forces.
Schoolchildren were also among dozens of people wounded there.
The Taliban in recent days has also increased battlefield assaults against Afghan security forces, reportedly killing around 300 of them over the past 10 days or so.
The latest violence came on a day when delegates from Afghanistan opened a two-day conference in Qatar to engage in peace discussions with Taliban envoys.
The U.S. and Taliban negotiators are separately also conducting a seventh round of direct talks in the Qatari capital of Doha in a bid to bring an end to 18 years of Afghan hostilities.
Both sides have reported progress in the discussions before taking a break from the dialogue in support of Sunday’s intra-Afghan meeting and they will resume discussions Tuesday.