Taliban attacks kill 48, Afghan leader unhurt as bomber targets rally

Taliban suicide attacks kill at least 48 before Afghan elections

Afghan security forces at the site of the blast in Kabul

At least 24 people have been killed and 32 wounded after a suicide blast outside a campaign rally being held by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in central Parwan province on Tuesday, a hospital official said.

Afghan police inspect the site of a bombing in Parwan province, where Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was speaking at a campaign rally.

A provincial spokesman, Ataullah Khogyani, said the blast had been carried out by a suicide bomber, and that security forces had rushed to the scene to rescue staff still inside the building.

The blast killed 26 people and wounded 42 others, Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told reporters.

The Taliban has vowed to violently disrupt the election and on Tuesday killed almost 50 people in twin suicide bombings, one targeting a Ghani election rally.

On Sept. 2, Khalilzad announced the two sides had a draft peace deal "in principle" that included withdrawing 5,400 USA troops from the country and closing five US military bases over 135 days, in exchange for the Taliban taking action to reduce violence in the Afghan provinces of Parwan and Kabul.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both Taliban and Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan.

So far, no group claimed responsibility for the bombing which appears to be a second high-profile attack on Afghan government in just one day.

A statement by the ministry says that "Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms", adding Islamabad's support for Afghan efforts aimed at restoring peace and stability to the war-ravaged country.

Firdaus Faramarz, speaking for Kabul's police chief, said there was no immediate information about casualties in the Kabul blast near Massood Square, a deeply congested intersection in the centre of Kabul. Khalilzad sought a comprehensive peace deal including a cease-fire, USA troop withdrawal and a Taliban pledge to hold talks with the Afghan government, as well as a Taliban counterterrorism pledge against al Qaeda and the Islamic State-Khorasan.

"The toll includes women and children", Parwan hospital director Dr Abdul Qasim Sangin told AFP.

Ghani is seeking a clear negotiation with the Taliban on the lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The bomber who attacked Ghani's rally detonated his explosives at the entrance to the rally, according to Hamed Aziz, a spokesman form Ghani's campaign office.

Mr Stanikzai's words came a week after Mr Trump declared the talks "dead".

Security at rallies across the country has been tight following threats by the Taliban to attack meetings and polling stations.

Trump had said the United States was walking away from negotiations after almost a year of grinding diplomatic efforts to strike a deal that could pave the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan following 18 years of war.

In the aftermath of the scrapped talks, Afghans braced for what many expected to be an increase in violence. They have also refused to agree to a cease-fire. There also have been three non-combat deaths this year.

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