Kabul: A car bombing and mortar shells fired at a busy market in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province killed 23 people Monday, including children, a statement form a provincial governor’s office said. Both the Taliban and the Afghan military blamed each other for the attack in Sangin district.
Details of the reported attack could not be independently confirmed as the area, which is under Taliban control, is remote and inaccessible to reporters.
The statement from the office of the governor, General Mohammad Yasin, did not provide further details and there was no claim of responsibility for the attack.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, denied the insurgents were involved in the bombing. The Taliban claimed the military fired mortars into the market. The military said a car bomb and mortar shells fired by the insurgents targetted the civilians.
The army also said there was no military activity in the area Monday and that two Taliban fighters were also killed when the car bomb detonated at the marketplace. Livestock that the locals were selling on the market, sheep and goats, were also killed.
A statement from the presidential palace said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the ‘brutal and inhumane act’, and stressed that targetting civilians, especially children and adults, is against Islamic and human values.
“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again calls on the Taliban to refrain from war and violence and to accept the will of the Afghan people, which is the end of the war and the start of negotiations,” Ghani’s statement said.
The United Nations in recent reports and statements has asked both sides in the conflict to be more careful of civilian casualties. It said that civilian casualty is on the increase.
Still, violence has continued unabated in Afghanistan, even though talks between the Taliban and Kabul representatives could start as early next month in July in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.