At least 15 people have been killed, and more than 40 wounded, in an explosion in Eastern Afghanistan, according to Al Jazeera. On Saturday 3rd October, a car bomb was detonated outside government buildings in the Ghani Khel district of Nangarhar province. Following the blast, “several armed attackers tried to enter the building but were killed by security forces,” according to the provincial governor’s spokesperson, Attaullah Khogyani, speaking to the AFP News Agency. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but it occurs during on-going peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban in Qatar.
According to Al Jazeera, Mr. Khogyani reported that, as a result of the blast, “13 civilians including one woman and four children were killed. Two members of security forces were also killed.” He went on to confirm that 42 individuals, mainly civilians, were wounded. It is also likely that the death toll may continue to rise in the next few days. Although no group has claimed responsibility, a statement released by the Afghan government on Saturday blamed the Taliban for the attack, suggesting it was a continuation of “their terrorist activities,” Tolo News reported.
This explosion is a stark reminder of the daily horrors faced by Afghan men, women and children. The country has been plagued by on-going violence for over forty years, causing untold levels of death, physical injury and psychological harm on the civilian population. The country also has the second highest refugee population in the world, with at least 2.5 million Afghans having fled their homes as a result of war and insecurity, according to the UNHCR. The onset of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, that began on 12th September, in Doha, Qatar, has provided hope that some form of peace may emerge in the country. However, it is clear that the commencement of the talks has had little effect in abating current violence within Afghanistan.
Sadly, attacks like these are a common occurrence in the country. Only four days earlier, on 29th September, a roadside bomb killed at least 14 people in Daikundi province, according to Action on Armed Violence. Although the Taliban have been unwilling to claim responsibility for the on-going violence, the Afghan government have looked to lay the blame firmly at their door. A spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, Tariq Arian, blamed the Taliban for 650 attacks in the past two weeks, causing the death of 69 civilians, Reuters reported. It is not clear how this will impact on talks, but former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, tweeted on Saturday that “the escalation of violence during the intra-Afghan talks is a blatant conspiracy to undermine the peace talks.”
The Taliban have continually rejected calls from the Afghan government and international community to implement a ceasefire for the duration of peace talks. The continuation of violence is impacting negatively on the hopes of a positive and peaceful outcome. As is so often the case, civilians are those worst affected by the conflict. Greater efforts must be made by the international community to help broker peace between the Taliban and Afghan government, in order to return safety and security to the lives of Afghan people, to whom violence is a daily occurrence.
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