Taliban truck bomb kills 20


A Taliban truck bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 95 when it exploded near a hospital in southern Afghanistan, a provincial official said, with casualties expected to rise as rescuers sift the rubble.

The Taliban, carrying out nearly daily attacks since the collapse of peace talks with the United States this month, said the target was a nearby government intelligence department building in Qalat, capital of Zabul province.

“The bomb was huge and carried by a mini-truck,” said a senior defence ministry official in Kabul.

The militants planned to target a training base for Afghanistan’s powerful National Directorate of Security, but parked the vehicle outside a nearby hospital, another defence ministry source said.

Twenty bodies and 95 wounded people were evacuated from the blast site, said Haji Atta Jan Haqbayan, a member of the provincial council in Qalat.

“The number of casualties may rise as rescue teams and people search the rubble,” he added.

Women, children, health workers and hospital patients were injured in the blast.

There has been no let-up in Taliban attacks across Afghanistan as it prepares for a presidential election this month.

The Taliban warned its fighters will step up their campaign against the Afghan government and foreign forces to dissuade people from voting on September 28.

More than nine million Afghans are expected to vote, with government committing over 70 000 security force members to protection duties.

US President Donald Trump broke off talks with the Taliban for a deal on withdrawal of American troops in exchange for security guarantees from the Islamist group.

The talks, without the Afghan government, were intended to lead to wider peace negotiations to end the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan.