Dozens injured in Taliban attack near Afghan spy agency office

At least 43 injured as gunfire followed the blast near National Directorate of Security office in Samangan province.

More than 40 people, mostly civilians, have been wounded after gunmen clashed with security forces following a car-bomb blast at a government compound in Afghanistan’s northern province of Samangan.

The attack claimed by the Taliban group on Monday took place at a government facility in Samangan’s capital, Aybak, close to an office of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the main intelligence agency, officials said.

“It’s a complex attack that started with a car bomb. Clashes with the attackers are still going on,” said Mohammad Sediq Azizi, a spokesman for Samangan’s provincial government.

The province’s health director, Khalil Musadeq, said 43 civilians, including children, and members of the security forces had been wounded in the attack, with that number expected to rise and deaths expected.

Witness Waseh Suhail said gunshots could still be heard inside the NDS compound.

“It was a huge explosion that broke all our windows,” said Haseeb, who only gave one name, a government employee working nearby.

“Many people have been wounded by flying pieces of glass.”

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the armed group – who are active in the province and have recently stepped up attacks there – were behind the bombing.

Separately, at least 26 security forces were killed in coordinated attacks on Sunday in Kunduz province, also in the north, also claimed by the Taliban.

The attacks in Chahar Dara and Imam Sahib districts left 14 security forces and three Taliban fighters dead, Esmatullah Muradi, spokesman for the governor of Kunduz, told Anadolu news agency on Monday.

The recent attacks come at a sensitive time as violence in the country ramps up even as the United States tries to usher the government and the Taliban towards peace talks to end more than 18 years of war.

The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue was agreed as part of the US-Taliban deal signed in the Qatari capital Doha.

The February agreement, which excluded the Kabul government, called for a gradual withdrawal of US forces and a prisoner swap between Kabul and the Taliban.

The Taliban has been fighting foreign forces since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

On Sunday, accusing the Afghan government of delaying the start of talks, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban was “left with no option but to continue the war.”

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