Scores killed in Kabul blast as Afghanistan reels from attacks

Taliban Overrun Afghan Army Base, Kill 17 Troops

There was no immediate comment from the ministry of defence but officials in the area said nine police and 35 soldiers were killed in the attack, the latest in a series that have killed dozens of members of the security forces in provinces across Afghanistan.

With parliamentary elections due on October 20, the government had been bracing for more attacks in Kabul and other cities, even while hopes of peace talks with the Taliban had been fuelled by a three day truce during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in June. Officials later said all indications were that there was only one bomber.

A suicide blast in a mainly Shi'ite area of Kabul killed at least 48 people on Wednesday, the latest in a wave of attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, soldiers and policemen over recent days.

Since Friday, Afghan forces backed by American airstrikes fought to oust militants who had overrun the strategically important city of Ghazni south of Kabul.

Dilawar Aymaq, a parliamentarian from Baghlan, confirmed the attack, which targeted a military checkpoint and another manned by the local police, militias recruited and paid by the Interior Ministry.

The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have launched airstrikes and sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces as they fight for the city, just 120 kilometres from the Afghan capital with a population of some 270,000 people. The terror group has targeted Shia areas many times before but has not yet claimed responsibilty.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying 57 Afghan soldiers had surrendered to the Taliban while 17 others were captured in battle.

Taliban also attacked a police checkpoint in the southern Zabul province early on Wednesday, killing four police, according to the provincial police chief, Mustafa Mayar, who said another three officers were wounded.

Zabul police said that at least seven Taliban were also killed in the clash.

Afghan forces battled the insurgents for the fifth straight day in the eastern provincial capital of Ghazni, trying to flush them out of the city's outskirts.

A spokesman for the governor of Laghman, Sarhadi Zwak, said the victims were aged between 10 and 12.

The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but have since then repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces as they struggle to combat the resurgent Taliban. It is also plagued by roadside bombs planted by insurgents, which are usually intended for security forces but often kill and wound civilians.

"The extreme human suffering caused by the fighting in Ghazni highlights the urgent need for the war in Afghanistan to end", the top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said in a statement.

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