The bombing was the latest in an aggressive series of attacks by insurgents in the 10 days since American and Taliban negotiators suspended peace talks in Doha, Qatar, that were aimed at reaching a political settlement and a cease-fire in the 18-year-old war.
The Interior Ministry blamed the Taliban for Friday’s attack, which killed students and a traffic officer. A Taliban spokesman denied that the group was involved in the bombing, although it has claimed responsibility for many recent attacks.
In a burst of violence noteworthy even by Afghan standards, the Taliban have launched a number of sophisticated attacks aimed at government security forces and compounds, in some cases killing and maiming civilians.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in an interview on Friday that “the enemy’s raids on civilian Afghans and their killing of civilians are forcing us to aggressively target their strong and secured centers, which are in the cities.”
Since the peace talks began last fall, both sides have escalated operations, in part to increase leverage in negotiations. From Tuesday through Thursday alone, the Ministry of Defense claimed to have conducted hundreds of combat operations and dozens of airstrikes, killing more than 200 militants.
But the audacity of the Taliban attacks has been notable since the latest round of peace talks was suspended on July 9. Insurgents killed an American Special Forces soldier in combat on July 13, the Pentagon said.
And in the past four days, according to provincial and military officials, the Taliban killed an Afghan Army brigade commander in an insider attack in eastern Afghanistan; assassinated a senior bodyguard of President Ashraf Ghani; and killed up to 35 elite Afghan commandos in a nighttime raid in western Afghanistan, according to local officials who said at least 30 Taliban were also killed.
Saturday 20 July 2019 01:06