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Taliban suicide bomber attacks police HQ in northern Afghanistan

05 May 2019 Al Jazeera

A Taliban fighter driving a Humvee packed with explosives has blown himself up outside the police headquarters in Afghanistan's northern Baghlan province, Afghan officials and the armed group said.

At least 20 people were wounded in the attack in Pul-e-Khumri city on Sunday. No deaths have been reported yet in the suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.

Officials said armed fighters belonging to the group entered the police headquarters after the blast and opened fire on security forces stationed there.


"Clashes have not stopped. Twenty injured people were taken to the hospital from the blast site," said Assadullah Shahbaz, a member of the Baghlan provincial council, adding they have sought immediate support from neighbouring provinces.

Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman at the interior ministry in Kabul, said the Afghan forces shot down a Taliban fighter who tried to enter the police headquarters, but several other fighters penetrated the offices.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks on security installations to demoralise Afghan police and troops even as they hold direct talks with officials from the United States to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

On Friday, US envoy for peace Zalmay Khalilzad, who is leading the talks in Doha, said on Twitter that he told Taliban "that the Afghan people, who are their brothers and sisters, want this war to end".

"It is time to put down arms, stop the violence and embrace peace," Khalilzad posted.

The Taliban responded by saying Khalilzad "should forget about the idea of us putting down our arms".

"Instead of such fantasies, he should drive the idea home [to the US] about ending the use of force and incurring further human and financial losses for the decaying Kabul administration," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

Also on Friday, an Afghan grand assembly, widely known as Loya Jirga, ended with delegates demanding an "immediate and permanent" ceasefire and a promise from President Ashraf Ghani to free 175 Taliban prisoners before Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that starts on Monday.

The Taliban, seeking to restore strict Islamic rule, refuse to talk to the Afghan government which they dismiss as a "US puppet".

The group also rejected an invitation to the Loya Jirga, attended by 3,200 religious leaders, politicians and representatives from across the country, meeting under a giant white tent in Kabul.

Intense fighting continues across Afghanistan with Taliban controlling or influencing more territory than ever since their ouster at the hands of the US-led troops following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission, known as Resolute Support, that trains and assists Afghan security forces in their battle against Taliban and other groups.

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