Afghan official: Taliban suicide car bombing kills 1

AP , Tuesday 15 Aug 2017

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed vehicle near an Afghan military checkpoint in the country's northeastern Kunduz province on Tuesday, killing at least one person, a security official said.

Two other people were wounded in the noon-time attack in the province's Chardara district, said Mufoz Akbari, spokesman for the regional police chief. The bomber likely planned to enter the provincial capital, Kunduz, but got detained at the checkpoint where he then carried out the attack, Akbari added.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the media.

Over the past two years and after the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops, the Taliban have stepped up attacks and spread from their southern heartland across the country. Attacks in the north have also increased.

During that time, the city of Kunduz twice fell into the hands of the Taliban before Afghan forces retook it. Since then, there have been scores of attacks.

Separately, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan on Tuesday claimed responsivity for killing 54 Shiite civilians last week in the Mirzawalang area in northern Sari Pul province. The Sunni extremist group considers Shiites as apostates and frequently targets them.

The Taliban and IS are both active across much of Afghanistan and are mostly rivals. There have been several reports of firefights between the two insurgent groups in different parts of the country.

But in the case of the attack in Mirzawalang, the two appeared to have joined forces and put rivalries aside. Local media and residents recounted seeing both the Taliban white banner and the Islamic State group's black flag flying together during the attack. At one point during the attack, the Taliban released 235 villagers following mediation by tribal elders.

Zabi Amani, spokesman for the Sari Pul governor, said Afghan security forces managed to retake control of Mirzawalang from the insurgents.

"Right now people are trying to identify the bodies scattered all over the area," he said, adding that many of the bodies have been beheaded and are difficult to identify.

Earlier, the Taliban also claimed responsibility for the attack in Mirzawalang but denied the killing of locals.

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