Taliban car bomb kills nine Afghan intelligence officials, a day after power-sharing deal agreed

Taliban car bomb kills nine Afghan intelligence officials, a day after power-sharing deal agreed
At least 40 other security personnel were wounded in the attack, with eight in critical condition.
3 min read
18 May, 2020
Security personnel inspect the site of a Taliban attack in southeastern Paktia on Friday [Getty]
At least nine Afghan intelligence officials were killed in a suicide bombing in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni in the early hours of Monday, according to local media sources.

A stolen Humvee vehicle packed with explosives was driven to the entrance of the country’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) were it was detonated, injuring at least 40 intelligence personnel.

Eight of the wounded were in critical condition and were transferred a hospital in Kabul, according to provincial governor Arif Noori.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, which shook houses 2km away and shattered glass, local media reported.

The site of Monday bombing was the provincial capital, also called Ghazni, where the Taliban controls much of the surrounding countryside.

The city has fallen into Taliban hands twice in recent years amid ongoing large-scale attacks against Afghan and NATO forces.

The deadly car bombing comes only a day after Afghanistan's two rival leaders reached a power-sharing agreement, ending months of political deadlock following disputed elections held in September.

Under the deal, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will hold his post, while Abdullah Abdullah will act as deputy leader, heading the country’s National Reconciliation High Council.

Read more: Afghanistan rivals end months-long feud with power-sharing deal

The inability to negotiate a settlement saw a punishing $1 billion dollar aid cut meted out by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A breakthrough peace agreement between the US and the Taliban, to the pave the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces, was also supposed to lay the groundwork for talks between the group and the Afghan government.

Yet the personal acrimony between Ghani and Abdullah impeded progress, with talks stalled in March.

Pompeo spoke to both leaders on Sunday, according to AP, welcoming the power-sharing deal but expressed regret that time had been "lost".

Last week, two deadly attacks shook the war-torn nation at its core. Armed militants stormed a maternity hospital in a mostly Shia neighbourhood in Kabul, killing 24, including mothers, nurses and two babies and injuring 16 others.

In the eastern province of Nangrahar, a suicide bomber detonated their vest at the funeral of a former warlord, killing 32 people and wounding 133 others.

The US held the Islamic State group responsible for the former, while the latter was directly claimed by the group.

Yet in aftermath of both attacks, Afghan President Ghani immediately took the country's TV screens, calling on security forces to attack Taliban insurgents, reversing the defensive posture maintained by his government since the US-Taliban deal.

"The Taliban have not given up fighting and killing Afghans, instead they have increased their attacks on our countrymen and public places," Ghani said.

The Taliban said Monday's attack in Ghazni was a response to the government's recent declaration of war.

On Thursday, the Taliban detonated a truck close to a military building in the city of Gardez, located in the southeastern Paktia province, leaving five dead and 20 injured, including military personnel and civilians, according to RadioFreeEurope.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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