KABUL   -    At least 18 people have been killed and 145 wounded after a Taliban suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside a police station in Kabul, according to the Afghan Public Health Ministry.

Women and children were among the victims of the attack that occurred at around 9 am local time on August 7, Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said. Deputy Interior Minister Khoshal Sadat told reporters that 92 of the wounded were civilians. Four police officers were among those killed, Sadat said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes amid peace talks between the United States and the Taliban aimed at bringing the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan to an end.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, told a news conference that continued Taliban attacks showed that the militant group has “no commitment to peace.”

The bombing targeted the police District 6 headquarters in Golaee Dawa Khana, a minority Shi’ite neighborhood in western Kabul. A military training school is situated in the same neighborhood.

Eyewitnesses said gunfire could be heard after the explosion that occurred as many Kabul residents were busy preparing for the Muslim holiday Eidul Azha, which begins on August 11.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that the bombing was a response to “crimes” committed by government forces. Mujahid also said that “positive progress” was being made in the peace talks with US negotiators.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad this week reported “excellent progress” at the talks meant to bring America’s longest war to a conclusion. Khalilzad voiced hope that a final agreement could be reached by September 1. But the Taliban continue to refuse to talk to the Kabul government, dismissing it as a US puppet.

The August 7 attack was the 16th to target Kabul this year. At least 113 people have been killed and 732 others have been injured in the attacks. Also on August 7, a bomb wounded at least eight civilians, including women and children, in the western city of Herat, according to Abdul Ahid Walizada, the provincial police chief’s spokesman.

HEKMATYAR LABELS CURRENT GOVERNMENT ‘UN-ISLAMIC’

Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is running for president, at a campaign rally on Wednesday slammed the Afghan government leaders as “foreigners’ slaves” and called the government “un-Islamic”.

Hekmatyar said the incumbent government - which is led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah - has been “occupied” by foreigners.

Hekmatyar who entered the Afghan politics after a peace deal with the government in 2016, said there will be no security in Afghanistan unless foreign forces withdraw from the country – something the Taliban members are also pushing for in their talks with the US negotiators in Doha.

“They have named this government the Islamic Republic, down and death to those who recognize this government as the Islamic Republic. It is a dark stain on the forehead of Islam,” Hekmatyar told his supporters at a gathering in Kapisa Province, almost 80 kilometers to the north of Kabul.