Taliban suicide bomber kills three as violence rises despite peace push


Kandahar (Reuters) – A Taliban suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed military vehicle on the approach to the provincial governor’s residence and police headquarters in the Afghan province of Kandahar on Wednesday, killing at least three people, authorities said.

Bloodshed is escalating anew in Afghanistan even as the United States tries to broker a peace deal between the Taliban and Afghan government after almost two decades of war.

“At around 4 a.m., a suicide bomber driving a large (Afghan security force) truck came under fire from security forces before reaching his goal, but detonated explosives near police headquarters and the governor’s residential complex,” the governor’s spokesman, Bahir Ahmad Ahamdi, said.

Three members of the security forces were killed and 14 people wounded, including civilians, in the attack in the Sha Wali Kot district of Kandahar, he said, and the police headquarters and governor’s compound suffered severe damage.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying in a statement that the police headquarters had been used as a military hub for security force operations against the Islamist insurgents.

Diplomats say the resurgence of attacks is heightening mistrust just as the Afghan government and Taliban are set to enter peace negotiations and as the United States withdraws forces under a deal with the Taliban struck in February.

On Tuesday, a car bomb blast in the eastern province of Nangarhar killed a local police commander and three other people, and wounded 11, according to the provincial governor’s spokesman. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack.

An explosion in Kabul on Tuesday injured two civilians and security forces said they had thwarted large attacks in and around the capital.

Disagreement over a release of prisoners – with Kabul refusing to free 600 of the 5,000 Taliban it holds – is proving to be one of the last major hurdles to the start of full peace negotiations in the Qatari capital Doha.

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