Suicide Car Bombing in North Afghanistan Causes Casualties

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Afghan security forces inspect the site of a bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan
Afghan security forces inspect the site of a bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, May 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber struck Monday in northern Afghanistan's province of Samangan, setting off a large explosion that was followed by a gun battle between other attackers and Afghan forces, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The officials said there were casualties but they could not provide the number of fatalities as the fighting was still underway. A provincial hospital chief, Abdul Khalil Musadiq, said at least 43 wounded — mostly civilians, including children — were taken to hospitals in the area.

Mohammad Hashim Sarwari, deputy chief for the provincial council, said the bomber targeted the intelligence service department in the provincial capital of Aybak. He said the blast was so strong it was heard miles away and damaged buildings and homes within a wide radius.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the Taliban — who are active in the province and have recently stepped up attacks there — were behind the bombing.

Samangan also has seen clashes between rival warlords in the area and some Islamic militants, mostly Uzbeks affiliated more with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

On Sunday, the Taliban attacked checkpoints in northern Kunduz province, killing at least 14 members of the Afghan security forces, according to Esmatullah Muradi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

In Imam Sahib district, the Taliban killed eight policemen, while in the Chardara district they gunned down three soldiers and three pro-government fighters, he said. Reinforcement were sent late on Sunday and fighting continued until Monday morning.

The Taliban said they were behind the attacks but claimed that government forces fired mortars in response, hitting civilian homes — a claimed that was dismissed by the Ministry of Defense.

The Taliban and government forces have been trading blame over a recent surge in attacks across Afghanistan — even as efforts continue to try and bring about the start of direct peace talks between Kabul and the insurgents.

The Taliban accuses government forces of targeting them in their homes, with their families bearing the brunt of those operations. Kabul, meanwhile, has accuse the Taliban of stepping up attacks against both civilians and the security forces.

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Associated Press writer Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

This article was written by RAHIM FAIEZ from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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