KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for an attack at a military centre in southern Helmand province in Afghanistan where at least 150 members of the Afghan army and intelligence wing were stationed.
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 Islamist group, said in a statement.
The defence ministry confirmed the blast, and said one member of the army was injured.
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 U.S. 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.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, 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 U.S. 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.
Reporting by Zainullah Stanekzai in Helmand, Ahmad Sultan in Nangarhar; Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul; Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by Kim Coghill and Gerry Doyle
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