Seven Police Killed In Kabul-Kandahar Highway Attack

Heavy security presence outside Ghazni prison as clearance operations are underway

Heavy security presence outside Ghazni prison as clearance operations are underway

Afghanistan's president has condemned the suicide bombing in Kabul that targeted Shiite students studying for university entrance exams, killing 48.

Afghanistan's Public Health Ministry says the casualty toll from the suicide bombing that struck a Shiite neighborhood in Kabul has risen to 48 dead and 67 wounded.

The Taliban group had earlier issued a statement confirming that the fighters of the group have no links with today's attack in Dasht Barchi. Officials later said all indications were that there was only one bomber.

The Afghan government insisted yesterday that it had regained control of Ghazni, a city of 270,000 people less than two hours' drive from Kabul.

"He was a smart and energetic boy, top of his class", he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Kabul blast but the attack bore the hallmark of Islamic State, which has conducted many previous attacks on Shi'ite targets.

The Taliban overran a base in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers while Afghan forces battled the insurgents for the fifth straight day in the eastern provincial capital of Ghazni on Tuesday, trying to flush them out of the city's outskirts, officials said.

The terror group has targeted Shia areas many times before but has not yet claimed responsibilty.

The Taliban launched a coordinated offensive last Friday, overwhelming the city's defenses and capturing several neighbourhoods.

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Arif Noori, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said Wednesday that "life is getting back to normal" after at least 35 civilians were killed in recent days.

It was not immediately clear how the bomber managed to sneak into the building, used by the Shia community as an education centre, in the Dasht-i Barcha area of Kabul.

The attack occurred as the government was facing heavy pressure over a Taliban attack on the central city of Ghazni that led to five days of intense fighting during which hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces were killed.

According to Zabul police the clash happened when a group of armed Taliban attacked police check posts on the highway near Qalat city of Zabul province.

"What's crystal clear is that almost four years after the Afghan security forces took over the war efforts, they're still woefully unprepared for the task despite very real improvements in capacities in recent years". The assault on Ghazni was widely seen as a show of force ahead of possible peace talks with the United States, which has been at war in Afghanistan for almost 17 years.

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Separately, six girls younger than 10 were killed when an unexploded mortar they picked up to play with suddenly exploded on Wednesday, officials in the eastern province of Laghman said.

Nasart Rahimi, a deputy spokesman at the Interior Ministry, said security forces were searching every inch of Ghazni on Tuesday for remaining Taliban fighters. In June, both the Afghan government and the Taliban announced a three-day cease-fire to mark the end of Ramadan-the first one in nearly two decades of war.

The UN has warned that as many as 150 civilians may have also been killed.

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