Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Afghan officials ready for so-called Kabul Process

A truck bomb that struck the heart of the Afghan capital last week killed more than 150 people, the country's President Ashraf Ghani said Monday, making it one of the deadliest single attacks in the country since the 2001 USA -led invasion.

At least six people were killed and 87 others wounded when multiple blasts ripped through a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in the capital Kabul on Saturday, according to a Health Ministry official.

Ghani said if the Taliban did not soon begin negotiations, he would seek new sanctions against the group as a sponsor of terrorism.

Underscoring the volatile situation, at least one rocket struck an Indian diplomatic compound in Kabul, as the delegations met a few blocks away.

Pakistan Army on Tuesday denounced the terrorist act in Kabul which claimed the lives of 150 people and injured many others.

The peace conference was set to include discussions on talks with Taliban, as the capital reels from a wave of bombings and clashes that left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded in the last week.

The Taliban said it had nothing to do with the blast, the deadliest attack in the 16-year-old conflict.

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The government has accused the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network of carrying out Wednesday's attack, and said the funeral was targeted by bombers trained at a religious seminary in Pakistan.

Ghani reiterated on Tuesday that he wants peace talks with the Taliban, but said that it wasn't an "open-ended" opportunity.

"I urge everyone not to respond to violence with more violence, said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, expressing heartfelt condolences to family and friends of the victims, all civilians, "who once again suffered indescribable loss today".

However, he added that if the Taliban failed to take up the offer, Afghanistan would push for the United Nations to sanction the group as a "perpetrator and sponsor" of terror.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani yesterday issued an ultimatum to the Taliban, warning them to embrace peace or "face consequences" after announcing that the death toll from last week's devastating truck bombing had passed 150.

The Taliban made steady gains in the country since the global military mission declared an end to its combat mission in 2014.

The attack has come at a time when the Afghanistan capital is hosting an global peace meeting called the Peace Process Conference.

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