KABUL/MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Reuters) - Taliban militants clashed with security forces following a car bomb blast at a government compound in northern Afghanistan on Monday, killing ten people and wounding dozens more, officials said.
The attack took place at a government facility in Samangan province’s capital Aybak close to an office of the National Security Directorate, the main intelligence agency.
“It’s a complex attack that started with a car bomb,” said Mohammad Sediq Azizi, a spokesman for the provincial government.
The attack ended after four gunmen died following clashes with Afghan security forces, he added.
Abdul Latif Ibrahimi, Samangan’s governor, said ten security members were killed and 54 people, including civilians, were wounded.
In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes at a sensitive time as violence increases even as the United States tries to usher the government and militants towards peace talks to end more than 18 years of war.
The violence threatens to hamper progress on the talks, which have not started due to a separate disagreement over the release of 600 Taliban prisoners from 5,000 the group has demanded.
Local officials also accused the Taliban of attacking security force checkpoints around the country overnight, killing seven personnel in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, 14 in northern Kunduz, and four in the central province of Parwan.
The Taliban said in statements they had carried out attacks killing nine in Kunduz and eight in Badakhshan.
Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul and Abdul Matin Sahak in Mazar-I-Sharif; additional reporting by Sardar Razmal in Kunduz and Ahmad Sultan in Nangarhar; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne