Afghan officials said Sunday at least 34 people were killed in two separate suicide bombings that targeted a military base and a provincial chief.
In eastern Ghazni province, 31 soldiers were killed and 24 others wounded when the attacker drove a military humvee full of explosives onto an army commando base before detonating the car bomb, according to an official in Afghanistan’s national security council, who spoke anonymously because he was not permitted to speak directly to the media.
The attack was also confirmed by Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, though he did not provide details on casualties.
In southern Afghanistan, a suicide car bomber targeted the convoy of a provincial council chief in Zubal, killing at least three people and wounding 12 others, including children.
The provincial council chief, Attajan Haqbayat, survived the Sunday attack with minor injuries, though one of his bodyguards was among those killed, said provincial police spokesman Hikmatullah Kochai.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.
The bombings come as Afghan government representatives and the Taliban hold face-to-face talks in Qatar for the first time to end the country's decades-long war.
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There has been a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces since the start of peace talks in September. There have also been deadly attacks this month claimed by Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, including a horrific attack on Kabul University that killed 22 people, most of them students.
The U.S., meanwhile, plans to withdraw another estimated 2,500 troops before the middle of January, leaving about 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of America’s longest war. Afghan officials, however, have expressed concerns that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the negotiating hand of the Taliban.
The United States has been pressing in recent weeks for a reduction in violence, while the Afghan government has been demanding a cease-fire. The Taliban have refused, saying a cease-fire will be part of negotiations, though the group have held to their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops.