Security

Bomber kills more than a dozen performing a Koran recitation in Ghazni

Salaam Times and AFP

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Relatives carry the coffin of a victim of an October 24 roadside bombing in Ghazni Province. The blast ripped through a bus and killed nine civilians, officials said, in yet another attack blamed on the Taliban. [AFP]

GHAZNI -- A motorbike loaded with explosives blew up in Ghazni Province on Friday (December 18), killing at least 15 people at a religious ceremony, officials said.

The blast hit a house hosting a Koran recitation, said Interior Affairs Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian.

"Today at about 2 pm, a motorbike full of explosives blew up in one of the houses situated in the Agho Jan area of Gilan District in Ghazni, where the recitation of the Holy Koran was taking place. Unfortunately, 15 civilians were martyred and 20 others were injured," Arian said in a Twitter post December 18.

Wahidullah Jumazada, a spokesperson for the Ghazni governor, put the number of dead at 11. At least 20 others, including children, were wounded, he said.

No group has claimed responsibility.

President Ashraf Ghani in a statement condemned the bombing and called on the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire.

Taliban and Afghan government forces have regularly clashed in Ghazni.

Thirty security personnel were killed last month when a suicide car bomber struck an army base near Ghazni city, the provincial capital.

The Taliban have primarily targeted government forces in rural areas since signing a deal with Washington in February that paved the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces by May 2021.

The latest violence comes as peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha between the Taliban and Afghan government are on pause until January.

Call for talks in Kabul

Ghani has called for the next round of peace negotiations to be held in Kabul, saying it was inappropriate to meet in "luxurious hotels".

Taliban negotiators have flown to Pakistan where they met Prime Minister Imran Khan December 18. He called on both sides to reduce violence and agree to a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, met separately this week with the Taliban and Ghani to push for a negotiated solution, the Pentagon said Thursday (December 17).

Meeting the Taliban in Qatar, Gen. Milley "discussed the need for an immediate reduction of violence and (to) accelerate progress towards a negotiated political solution which contributes to regional stability and safeguards US national interests", spokeswoman Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty said.

Milley, who conferred or the second time with Taliban representatives, also held talks in Kabul with Ghani on Wednesday (December 16).

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Afghan politicians either if they are Taliban or Afghan government officials, all of them are hungry for power. If we look at the history of Afghanistan, even a brother has killed his brother to take over power. Neither Taliban are children of human nor officials of the Afghan government. May Allah bless the oppressed nation.

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The war in Afghanistan is over power. Neither Ashraf Ghani nor Mullah Abdul Ghani cares about the killing of innocent people. In this war, only the children of poor people are sacrificed. Ashraf Ghani has been shouting all day that he is not ready to step down, because it will cause to lose the 20-year-old achievements, but Taliban say peace in the country is impossible unless the regime is changed. Both sides are stubborn and this stubbornness of the two groups will lead the country towards crisis. Innocent people are sacrificed every day, and it is not clear who kill them. The government accuses Taliban for the assassinations and explosions, but on the other side, Taliban say it is the work of the government and the government is trying to discredit the Taliban so that the peace process is disrupted and they remain in power, but the people of Afghanistan know that their killers are both the current government and the Taliban. The war of Afghanistan must be stopped. Either the Afghan government must become completely victorious and eliminate the Taliban altogether, or Taliban must come and provide a nationwide security. Security is important for the people. It does not matter to them whether the system is Emirate or Republic. At the end, I want paradise from Almighty God for the martyrs of the Ghazni incident and patience for their survivors.

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The incident of Ghazni was very tragic. May God destroy the perpetrators of this incident. I ask paradise for all the victims and express my deep condolences for their families.

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