KANDAHAR | Twenty-three civilians were killed Monday in explosions in a market in southern Afghanistan, said the afghan authorities, who blamed the attack on the taliban.
“This morning at 9: 30 a.m. (local time), the taliban have caused two explosions in the market district of Sangin in Helmand province. Unfortunately, 23 civilians were killed and 15 injured”, said the military command, in a press release.
The governorate of Helmand, in a separate release, confirmed this report, but has reported an operating mode different, with four shells launched on a bazaar, and then the explosion of a car bomb.
Questioned by AFP, a spokesman for the insurgents, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, has accused the authorities and their “mercenaries” of being behind the explosions.
In a statement, afghan president Ashraf Ghani said that it had learned “with deep regret” the day’s attack, which killed “children and young people in majority”, calling on the taliban to stop the violence.
Sangin is a district of fiercely contested in recent years by the taliban and the afghan forces and the coalition. The Helmand, a vast province in the South of afghanistan where opium poppy cultivation is queen, is very largely under the control of the insurgents.
The violence has declined in Afghanistan since the taliban announced a ceasefire of three days at the end of may on the occasion of the Eid el-Fitr, the muslim holiday marking the end of ramadan. But the afghan authorities say insurgent attacks have resumed in recent weeks, mainly against the afghan forces.
On Saturday, the national security Council (NSC) had identified 21 civilians killed and 30 wounded in fourteen provinces of the country the previous week.
The two camps, however, seem to be closer to the first peace negotiations, while president Ghani has promised to complete the release of 5000 prisoners the taliban against a thousand members of the afghan security forces held captive by the insurgents.
The authorities, who have already liberated nearly 4,000 prisoners, the taliban, plan to expand the thousand remaining, as stipulated in the agreement the american-taliban signed at the end of February at Doha, not ratified by Kabul.
The taliban have declared that they were ready for peace talks, but only after the release of 5000 prisoners.