KABUL: Afghan officials said on Thursday that separate explosions in the country’s north killed at least 16 people, almost all of them women and young girls.

A roadside bomb struck a civilian vehicle going to a wedding on Wednesday evening, killing at least 15 people including six women, six girls and two infants, as well as the male driver, according to Nasrat Rahimi, an Interior Ministry spokesman. He said two other civilians were wounded in the blast in northeastern Kunduz province.

Hours later, a gunfight and explosion at a security checkpoint killed at least one policeman, said Mohammad Nooragha Faizi, a police spokesman in northern Sari Pul province.

He said militants in a vehicle carrying explosives were stopped at the checkpoint Thursday morning, then opened fire to cover their escape. Faizi said they apparently detonated the explosives remotely after getting away, although an investigation was ongoing.

The Interior Ministry blames the Taliban for the two attacks. The insurgent group has not commented.

A statement from the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley met with Ghani in Kabul on Thursday and reassured him the US remained committed to fighting terrorism.

Last Tuesday, the Taliban freed an American and an Australian held hostage since 2016 in exchange for three top Taliban figures. The insurgent group said the swap could help rekindle peace negotiations. US-Taliban peace talks collapsed in September.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019

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