Taliban suicide bombings target civilians in public spaces, kill nearly 50
KABUL -- Two Taliban suicide bombings in Afghanistan on Tuesday (September 17) killed at least 48 people, with the militants warning of more violence ahead of this month's elections.
One bombing, which took place near a campaign rally in Parwan Province for President Ashraf Ghani, killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens.
About an hour after that explosion, another suicide bomber detonated his explosives near Ahmad Shah Massoud circle in Kabul at about 1pm, killing at least 22 people and wounding at least 38 others.
The explosions came after the United States ended peace talks with the militants after they had tried to use a campaign of violence and terror to influence negotiations.
This tactic however has backfired on the militants, as Taliban leaders now find themselves in a weakened position.
In a statement sent to media claiming responsibility for both blasts, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the attack near Ghani's rally was deliberately aimed at disrupting the September 28 elections.
"We already warned people not to attend election rallies; if they suffer any losses, that is their own responsibility," he said in the statement.
'Bloodthirsty enemies of the Afghan people'
Women and children were among the casualties in Parwan, Abdul Qasim Sangin, the director of Parwan Hospital, told AFP. He added 42 people were injured in addition to the 26 killed.
The bomber near Ghani's rally in Parwan Province was on a motorbike and detonated his device at a checkpoint leading to the event, according to Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
"In this terrorist attack, the bloodthirsty enemies of the Afghan people once again targeted civilians in public and displayed their wild faces," Rahimi wrote in a Facebook post, confirming the death toll.
Ghani, who was speaking to his supporters at the time of the blast, was unhurt but later condemned the attack, saying the incident proved the Taliban had no real interest in reconciliation.
"As the Taliban continue their crimes, they once again prove that they are not interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan," Ghani said in a statement.
Officials at the United Nations offices in Afghanistan also slammed the Taliban. In a tweet, they accused the insurgents of showing "despicable disregard for civilian life & fundamental human right to participate in democratic process".
"The Taliban are still killing Afghans and taking responsibility as an honour," Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for Ghani, said in a tweet hours after the twin attacks.
"The Taliban's narrative is war, violence and killing," he said.
'A serious threat'
Meanwhile, a Taliban delegation met with Iranian officials in Tehran on Monday (September 16), according to Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the group's political office in Doha, Qatar.
The Taliban earlier met with Russian officials in Moscow, and Afghans are wondering what the weakened militant group and its military backer are discussing after the group undermined the peace process by its own actions.
Sediqqi criticised the trips without referring to a specific country.
"The Taliban are a serious threat to the security of the region and the world," he said.
"Hosting this group is contrary to all principles and relations between countries, and especially to the Afghan government, which always wants good neighbourly relations," Sediqqi wrote.