Fri, 29 May 2020

Two Taliban attacks have killed at least 48 people and wounded dozens more in Afghanistan, 11 days before the country is set to hold a presidential election the militant group has vowed to disrupt.

At least 26 people were killed and 42 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives near an election rally attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on September 17, but Ghani was unhurt, officials say.

Later that day, another suicide blast rocked central Kabul, killing at least 22 people and wounding 38 others, according to the Interior Ministry.

Both attacks were claimed by the Taliban, which has threatened to step up attacks to discourage people from voting in the September 28 presidential election, where Ghani is seeking a second five-year term.

Ghani had just started delivering a speech at the rally in Charikar, the capital of Parwan Province, north of Kabul, when the first attack occurred.

Abdul Wasy Gulbahari, the provincial deputy police chief, told RFE/RL the explosion occurred outside the Ghani campaign gathering at the Police Educational Center.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the bomber had been on a motorbike and had detonated at the first checkpoint leading to the rally.

Abdul Qasim Sangin, head of the provincial hospital, told RFE/RL that 11 of those injured are in critical condition, including women and children.

'Ambulances are still operating, and the number of casualties may rise,' Sangin said.

'The president is unharmed,' an aide said.

The Interior Ministry said that six military personnel were among those killed in the suicide attack near the busy Massud Square in central Kabul. There were both women and children among those killed or wounded, it also said.

An Afghan official said the blast occurred near an army base and also near the U.S. Embassy.

Security at election rallies across the country has been tight following threats by the Taliban to attack meetings and polling stations.

Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban meant to reach a deal on the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops collapsed last week. The talks did not include the Afghan government.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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