Taliban kill six in attack since power transition


KABUL: A Taliban truck bomber killed six people in a province south of Kabul Thursday, officials said, in the first major attack since the insurgents confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Omar, according to foreign media sources.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Pul-i-Alam, the capital of Logar province in insurgency-prone eastern Afghanistan.

“A water truck filled with explosives was detonated when it was stopped at the gate of the Quick Reaction Force (police) compound,” said deputy provincial police chief Mohammad Qari Wara.

“It was a powerful explosion… which killed three members of the Quick Reaction Force and three civilians.”

Baheer, an official from the provincial governor’s office, confirmed the death toll, adding that eight people including a child were wounded.

The Afghan interior ministry said Thursday’s bombing was the first suicide attack since the Taliban confirmed last week the death of their leader Mullah Omar, who led the militant movement for some 20 years.

The attack highlights growing insecurity as Afghan forces face their first summer fighting season without full Nato support.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2015, a UN report said Wednesday, as Afghan forces struggle to contain the expanding conflict six months after the Nato combat mission ended.

The report said 1,592 civilians were killed, a six per cent fall over last year, while the number of injured jumped four per cent to 3,329. The casualties have reached their highest level since the UN began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.

The statistics are a grim indicator of rising violence as the Taliban insurgency spreads north from its traditional southern and eastern strongholds, with Afghan forces increasingly battling the militants on their own.

US-led Nato forces ended their combat mission in Afghanistan in December, but a 13,000-strong residual force remains for training and counter-terrorism operations.

The Taliban face growing internal divisions after Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was announced as the new head of the insurgent movement on Friday, following their confirmation of the death of Mullah Omar.

An increasingly bitter power struggle has broken out, casting a pall over a fragile peace process aimed at ending Afghanistan’s long war.

The Taliban distanced themselves from the second round of talks that were scheduled for last Friday but were cancelled after the announcement of Omar’s death.