KABUL: Eight people were killed and more than 30, including children, were injured on Monday after a suicide bomber targeted a provincial governor’s convoy in eastern Afghanistan, officials told Arab News.
The attack took place while Gov. Rahmatullah Yarmal, accompanied by heavily armed guards, was on his way to work in Laghman province’s capital, Mehtarlam, with his spokesman Assadullah Dawlatzai confirming that eight people, four of them bodyguards, had been killed.
“The governor was the target. A suicide bomber used a car full of explosives and rammed it into the governor’s convoy. He has been hurt slightly, but he is in a good condition,” Mohammad Rafi Mamozai, a lawmaker from Laghman province, told Arab News.
Meanwhile, Laghman’s health director, Samad Ali, said several children were among the injured who were rushed to the province’s main hospital for treatment.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike, which is similar to others that have taken place across the country recently.
It follows two deadly bombings in Kabul on Sunday and another one in eastern Nangarhar province a day earlier, where 16 people, including school children, lost their lives.
The increased violence in various parts of the country comes despite the ongoing peace talks between Taliban and government negotiators in Doha, Qatar, which began on Sept. 12.
Government officials have accused the Taliban of staging the majority of the attacks, arguing that the group was using the strikes as a tactic to seek political concessions at the negotiating table in Doha. Besides the Taliban, Daesh sympathizers have also used car bombs in recent years.
The Taliban have remained reticent about the government’s accusations, but blames Kabul for a spike in attacks since the start of the peace talks three weeks ago.
Negotiators from both sides have met on various occasions in Qatar since, but have yet to end a stalemate to begin real discussions or set the agenda for negotiations.
After his trip to Kuwait on Monday, President Ashraf Ghani is expected to travel to Qatar to discuss “bilateral relations with Qatari authorities,” Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told reporters. Experts, however, argue that the Taliban has a lot to lose if responsible for the attacks.
“The increase of attacks could be the work of the Taliban, but it does not want openly to take responsibility for it as it would damage the militants’ credibility in the eyes of Afghans and the international community while the talks are going in Qatar,” Nasratullah Haqpal, a regional analyst, told Arab News.
He did not rule out the possibility of the “involvement of Afghan intelligence or regional spy agencies for derailing the Qatar talks,” which are aimed at ending nearly four decades of war and paving the ground for a complete withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from Afghanistan by next spring.
Ghani’s trip to Qatar, where a high-ranking government delegation is accompanying him, is thus “very important” because he is keen to be a “part of any future political setup that will be decided on during the Qatar talks,” Haqpal added.