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Bombing targets wedding ceremony of Afghan soldier on eve of Taliban peace talks

Afghan government negotiators have left for Doha to hold landmark talks with the Taliban [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 September, 2020

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At least two civilians and two army personnel died in the attack in the remote province of Khost, with 13 reportedly injured.
An explosion which targeted the wedding party of an Afghan soldier in the eastern province of Khost killed two civilians and two army personnel early on Friday, Kabul’s Defence Ministry said.

The bombing, which took place after midnight on Friday, left 13 wounded.

The motive behind the attack is unclear and there has been no immediate claim of responsibility.

According to a UN report in April, in the first three months of 2020, some 533 civilians were killed and 760 were wounded across the country.

Friday's attack comes as Afghan government negotiators leave for Doha to hold landmark talks with the Taliban to end the country’s decades-long conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people.

Intra-Afghan negotiations set to begin on Saturday were slated to start in March but suffered numerous setbacks due to a spike in dead Taliban attacks on Afghan security personnel as well as a delayed prisoner exchange.

"After continuous efforts of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to start direct talks with the Taliban, the peace negotiating team of the IRA left Kabul for Doha," Nader Naderi, a member of the negotiating team, wrote on Twitter.

Read also: Taliban say team in Qatar for Afghan peace talks

US President Donald Trump has vowed to end the war in Afghanistan and oversee the full withdrawal of American forces from the country in order to curry favor with voters ahead of November elections.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will appear in the opening session of what he has called a "historic" opportunity to end America's longest war.

"I'm mindful of how difficult these conversations will be among the Afghans but it's theirs for the taking," he told reporters onboard his flight to Doha.

"We are going to Doha to tell the Taliban that you cannot succeed by force," Abdul Hafiz Mansour, a member of the Afghan delegation, told reporters at Kabul airport.

"The time is ready for reconciliation now, we can resolve our problems by talking to each other."

Agencies contributed to this report.

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