KABUL: At least 40 Afghan civilians died on Thursday in two separate attacks in Afghanistan, officials said, in the rising violence ahead of the presidential election on Sept. 28 which the Taliban have threatened to derail.
In one incident, 25 civilians, were killed in an airstrike by foreign troops in Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province, an official source and one lawmaker, Aryan Youn, from the province confirmed.
The attack in Nangarhar occured in a forest area of a mountainside where laborers were collecting nuts from the trees, Youn told Arab News over the phone.
“It is a heavily civilian area, and unfortunately we have learnt that 25 people have been killed in the airstrikes by foreign forces,” she said.
A local official source, requesting anonymity, said the attack happened close to an area where Daesh local sympathizers had a presence in the past.
The US-led NATO force could not be reached immediately for comment and it did not respond to emails from reporters. If confirmed, the casualties will be among the highest for months caused by an airstrike in Afghanistan.
Hours after the airstrike, an explosive-laden truck launched by the Taliban rammed into an intelligence agency’s compound near a hospital in Qalat, the provincial capital of southern Zabul province. At least 15 people died, 13 of them civilians, and 90 others were wounded, according to the Interior Ministry spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi.
Gul Islam Seyal, spokesman for the governor of Zabul, told Arab News that most of the victims, mostly women and children, were patients at the nearby hospital.
“This is not jihad, it is killing the poor civilians,” Shafiqullah, an attendant with one of the patients at the hospital, said.
President Ashraf Ghani said that the Taliban had lost the power to stand up to the security forces and were thus resorting to “terrorist attacks on public places.”
Civilians have borne the brunt of violence in Afghanistan for years.
The Taliban have publicly warned they will disrupt the election process. A few days ago 25 people died in a suicide attack in Parwan province, where President Ghani was addressing a campaign rally.
“The ongoing violent attacks orchestrated by the Taliban demonstrate blatant disregard for the people and institutions of #Afghanistan,” the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet.
“For Afghans to reconcile, the Taliban must demonstrate commitment to peace & the future of the country by reducing violence,” he added.
Pompeo made no mention of any possible intention on the part of Washington to resume talks with the Taliban.