Car bomb goes off near Afghan base; Taliban claim responsibility
Iran Press TV
Thursday, 14 May 2020 2:35 PM
A truck packed with explosives has gone off near a military base in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least five civilians in an attack claimed by the Taliban militant group.
Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said a bomber detonated the explosive-laden truck before reaching the army base in the eastern city of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, on Thursday.
Local officials confirmed that the powerful blast killed at least five civilians and wounded 19, including five army personnel.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement, claimed that "tens of soldiers were killed and wounded" and denied reports of civilian casualties.
"After the announcement of the offensive... an attack was carried out against an important military headquarters of the Kabul administration," Mujahid said.
The explosion comes two days after at least 56 people, including women and newborn babies, were killed in attacks elsewhere in the country.
On Tuesday, three heavily-armed militants attacked a maternity hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 24 people, including two newborn babies and their mothers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban said they had nothing to do with it.
In a separate attack on the same day, a terrorist detonated an explosive vest at a funeral ceremony in the eastern Nangarhar province, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68 others. The Daesh terrorist group took responsibility for the bombing.
The attacks have triggered international outrage and condemnation.
The United Nations Security Council, in a statement, strongly denounced the "heinous and cowardly terrorist attacks".
"Deliberately targeting infants, children, mothers and health workers as such is especially abhorrent," the statement read.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he had ordered the military to switch to the offensive mode rather than the defensive stance it had adopted as the United States tries to broker peace talks with the Taliban.
The Taliban later warned that they were "fully prepared" to counter any strikes.
Official data shows Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since the militant group inked a peace deal with the United States in February.
Under the deal, the militants agreed to halt their attacks in return for the gradual US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The group, however, accuses Washington of failing to honor the agreement.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. While the invasion ended the Taliban's rule in the country, it has failed to eliminate the militant group.
American forces have since remained bogged down in Afghanistan through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now, Donald Trump.
Amid the continued occupation, the Daesh terrorist group has emerged in the Asian country more recently.
About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed, along with unknown numbers of Afghan troops and Taliban militants. Over 100,000 Afghans have been killed or injured since 2009 when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting casualties.
About 14,000 US troops and approximately 17,000 troops from NATO allies and partner countries remain stationed in Afghanistan.
Since the US-led invasion that ousted a Taliban regime in 2001, the US has reportedly spent more than one trillion dollars on the war in Afghanistan.
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