Al Jazeera

Three Afghan soldiers killed in suicide bombing

Taliban claims responsibility for attack in Balkh province

An official says at least three Afghan soldiers have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on an army minibus near their base in northern Balkh province.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the governor in Afghanistan’s Balkh province, says the suicide bomber was on foot and targeted the army vehicle Monday morning the Dahdadi district.

He says 18 other military personnel were wounded in the attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to media.

In eastern province of Nangarhar, a presidential palace guard was killed by unknown gunmen, said Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Khogyani added that the man was shot inside his house and his mother was also wounded in the attack.

“An investigation is underway by police to find out who is behind this attack,” Khogyani said.

Taliban forces have increased their attacks recently across the country against Afghan security forces.

Last week, a Taliban suicide bomber struck a police base in central Kabul Monday, killing 20 Afghan police officers and injuring at least 32 others, according to a statement from the international military coalition in Afghanistan.

The attack came amid the Taliban's unprecedented winter offensive despite the renewed push to restart formal peace talks.

In recent months the Taliban briefly captured the northern city of Kunduz, the first urban center to fall to the armed group, and have seized territory in the opium-growing southern province of Helmand. Observers say the intensifying insurgency highlights a push by the group to seize more territory in an attempt to wrangle greater concessions during talks.

Pakistan — the Taliban's historic backers — hosted a milestone first round of talks directly with the Taliban in July.

But the negotiations stalled when the insurgents belatedly confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar, sparking infighting within the group.

The first and second round of the four-country talks were held last month in Islamabad and Kabul respectively. 

Al Jazeera with The Associated Press

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