At least 14 civilians, including women and children, were killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb in central Afghanistan, officials said, as violence continues despite peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government.
Seven women, five children, and two men died when their vehicle detonated an explosive device in Daikundi province, interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said in a statement. Three children were also wounded, he added, blaming the Taliban for the blast.
Nasrullah Ghori — the spokesman for the governor of Daikundi — told AFP the victims were traveling to a shrine when their minibus struck the bomb.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but roadside bombs have been a weapon of choice for the Taliban.
“Deliberate attacks” targeting civilians killed or wounded more than 800 civilians in Afghanistan during the first half of 2020, according to a UN report released in July.
The violence comes as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators are meeting in Doha, where they are trying to find a way to end 19 years of war.
Despite calls for a ceasefire, the Taliban have refused to halt their violence, seeing it as key to leverage at the negotiating table.
The blast came as the head of the Afghan peace process, Abdullah Abdullah, kicked off the second day of a three-day visit to neighboring Pakistan.
Speaking at an event in Islamabad, he proclaimed that the “ice has been broken” at peace talks, which started September 12.
Afghanistan has long accused Islamabad of providing vital support and safe havens to the Taliban.
Islamabad denies it supports the Taliban, but its influence with the militants is seen as pivotal to paving the way for any potential deal.