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Men carry children away from an explosion site in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Helmand province, in Afghanistan on Saturday. Photo: AP

Dozens killed as Taliban, IS launch multiple attacks across Afghanistan

Both groups have been blamed for increased violence since the US and Nato concluded combat missions in 2014


A suicide bomber killed at least two and wounded seven in an attack claimed by Islamic State in the diplomatic area of Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday, and at least 18 soldiers died in a separate attack on a checkpoint by Taliban insurgents in the country’s west, authorities said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the Kabul attack took place in the Shash Darak area near Nato headquarters and not far from the US embassy. Danish said the initial casualty count could rise.

Islamic State in a statement on its website claimed responsibility.

In western Farah province, at least 18 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack by Taliban insurgents, said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence. He said two other soldiers were wounded in the attack in the Bala Buluk district.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Meanwhile, an Afghan official said at least three security personnel were killed in separate suicide bombing attacks in southern Helmand province.

Security forces inspect an explosion site in Lashkar Gah, in the southern Helmand province. Photo: AP

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor in Helmand, said a car bomber early on Saturday was shot by Afghan army soldiers but his vehicle managed to reach the entrance of the army base in Nad Aali district, killing two soldiers and wounding another.

In a second suicide bombing attack near another military base in Helmand’s capital city Lashkar Gah, one security person was killed and seven civilians wounded, Zwak said.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for both suicide attacks in Helmand.

The resurgent Taliban and the newer IS affiliate have been blamed for increased violence in Afghanistan after US and Nato forces concluded combat missions in 2014, which began after the September 11 attacks in the US.

Security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing in the diplomatic area of Kabul on Saturday. Photo: AP

On January 27, a Taliban attacker drove an ambulance filled with explosives into the heart of the city, killing at least 103 people and wounding as many as 235.

The Taliban claimed the ambulance attack, as well as an attack a week earlier in which militants stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people, including 14 foreigners, and setting off a 13-hour battle with security forces.

The recent attacks have underscored the weaknesses of Afghan security forces more than 16 years after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban.

They also raise questions about President Donald Trump’s strategy for winning America’s longest war, which was announced in August but has changed little on the ground. That strategy was based on ramping up military pressure on the Taliban to eventually force them into peace talks with the government.