Taliban claim truck bomb on military base

The violence poses an immediate threat to a fragile peace deal between the US and the Taliban

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 29, 2020 file photo, Afghan special forces stand guard at the site of a suicide bomber attack on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. mission in Afghanistan has for the first time refused to publicly release its data on insurgent attacks amid the implementation of a peace agreement between the U.S. and Taliban, a U.S. watchdog said Friday, May 1, 2020. Washington’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which monitors billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Afghanistan, expressed its concern in its quarterly report, which also discusses the reduction in ground operations of Afghan forces. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)
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The Taliban claimed responsibility for a truck bomb at a military base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday night, an assault that dealt another blow to a fragile peace deal struck between the militant group and the United States in February.

There were conflicting reports about the number of casualties. The Taliban claimed dozens of deaths but often exaggerate death tolls. The Afghan defence ministry confirmed the blast, and said one member of the army was injured.

The bombing occurred on Sunday night, government officials and the Taliban said.

"Dozens of members belonging to the enemy forces have been killed and wounded in the attack," Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, a spokesman for the hardline group, said.

The Afghan forces in the last two months have suffered heavy casualties across the country. The violence poses an immediate threat to a fragile peace deal between the United States and the Taliban, signed in February, as the Afghan military is forced to fight an emboldened Taliban with less US support.

An intelligence officer who survived the attack at the military centre told Reuters that militants detonated a truck bomb near the facility for National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Army forces.

The official said he helped pull out at least 18 bodies from the blast site on Sunday night.

In a separate incident, police in south eastern Paktika province said at least 20 people were injured when Taliban fighters threw a hand grenade into a mosque in Khayerkot district on Sunday evening.

The US recorded an increase in Taliban attacks against Afghan forces in March after signing a peace deal with the insurgent group, a government watchdog office said in a report last week, contrary to hopes that the peace deal would lead to less violence in the war-torn country.