Kabul   -  Three bomb blasts hit Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, Al Jazeera reported.

The first explosion killed eight employees of the country’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, and injured 27, said the ministry’s spokesperson Qadeer Mufti. The explosion was triggered by a suicide bomber who blew himself up on a motorcycle in front of the bus, news agencies quoted Nasrat Rahim, a spokesperson of Kabul’s interior ministry, as saying.  Minutes later, another suicide bomber struck a few metres away killing seven people and injuring 20.

 “First a magnetic bomb pasted to a minibus exploded, then a suicide bomber blew himself near the bus attack site and the third blast happened when a car was blown up by unknown militants,” Al Jazeera quoted Rahim as saying. “The death toll could rise from all the three blasts.” A spokesperson for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the car bomb in Spechari area of Kabul, but denied any involvement in the other bombings. The Islamic State group said it was behind the other two blasts in Kabul, Reuters quoted the terror group’s news agency Amaq as saying.

Spokesperson for Afghanistan’s health ministry Wahidullah Mayar said that at least 41 people were wounded in the attacks.

“The Ministry calls upon the national security and intelligence agencies to seriously interrogate the attack and act against the perpetrators,” Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum Nargis Nehan was quoted as saying by the ministry’s spokesperson. “May Allah bless the martyrs with Jannah and the injured with speedy recovery.”  In another blast in the eastern Nangarhar province, a roadside bomb killed seven and wounded four, a government spokesperson said.

Will visit Pakistan if invited:Taliban spokesman

After Prime Minister Imran Khan assured Washington to do everything possible for Afghan peace process, Sohail Shaheen, a senior Afghan Taliban spokesman, said he will definitely visit Pakistan if invited and meet the premier.

Talking to BBC from Doha, Sohail Shaheen maintained that he keeps visiting regional and neighbouring countries. Pakistan is also our neighbour and a Muslim country, he added.

The spokesman also appreciated Imran Khan’s statement regarding the release of two foreigners who were abducted from Kabul in 2016. During his visit to the United States earlier this week, Prime Minister Imran had hinted at a meeting with the insurgents.

 He had said he hoped that in the coming days, “we will be able to urge the Taliban to talk with the Afghan government and come to a political solution”, a point that was promptly appreciated by US President Donald Trump — who noted that Pakistan had helped in the Afghan peace talks tremendously in recent weeks.

Suhail Shaheen told BBC via telephone that members of the group would go to Pakistan if invited by the government.

Shaheen dismissed the idea that a meeting with Pakistani authorities would entail allegations that the militant group has Pakistan’s support, saying such allegations will be levelled by “only the people who have no other justification to fight the Taliban”.

 

EFFORTS ON FOR INCLUSIVE NEGOTIATING TEAM: KHALILZAD

 

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday said he had productive discussions with government leaders on forming an inclusive team for peace talks.

Khalilzad said in a tweet that in his meetings with President Aahraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and Acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, they focused on next steps in the peace process and that efforts are underway to form an “inclusive and effective” negotiating team.

The Afghan government reassured the US special envoy that an inclusive negotiating team will be formed and that only a few people will be making the structure of the team.

“Our final efforts will be focused on the formation of an inclusive delegation, concise but inclusive. Of course, the issue of the effectiveness of this team has major importance for us,” President Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters on Thursday.

“Those who are familiar with peace and are honest should be part of the negotiating team,” said Haji Din Mohammad, member of the High Peace Council.