Four Star Supply, Inc.

Taliban Kill 24 at Afghan Pres. Rally 09/17 06:17

Taliban Kill 24 at Afghan Pres. Rally  09/17 06:17

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted 
a campaign rally by President Ashraf Ghani in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, 
killing at least 24 people and wounding 31. Ghani was present at the venue but 
was unharmed, according to his campaign chief.

   Just hours later, an explosion struck near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul but 
details on that blast were not immediately known. The Taliban claimed both 

   The violence comes as Afghanistan faces presidential elections on Sept. 28 
--- a vote the Taliban vehemently oppose. The insurgent group has warned 
Afghans not to vote in the election, and said their fighters would target 
election campaigns as well as polling stations.

   In Tuesday's attack in northern Parwan province, the bomber rammed his 
motorcycle packed with explosives into the entrance of the venue where Ghani 
was campaigning on the outskirts of the city of Charakar.

   There were many women and children among the casualties, said Dr. Qasim 
Sangin, a local official.

   Wahida Shahkar, spokeswoman for Parwan's governor, said the rally had just 
begun when the explosion occurred.

   Local television footage of the attack showed twisted wreckage and charred 
remains of military and police vehicles that were apparently positioned near 
where the powerful blast

   Firdaus Faramarz, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said there was no 
immediate information about any casualties in the Kabul blast, which took place 
near Massood Square, a deeply congested intersection in the center of Kabul. 
NATO and U.S. compounds are located nearby as are several Afghan government 

   Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, released a statement to the media 
saying Taliban suicide bombers were behind both attacks.

   In Parwan, Mujahid said the bomber targeted presidential guards who were 
protecting Ghani and the rally, along with other members of the security 
forces. It wasn't immediately known if any of Ghani's guards were among the 

   Mujahid claimed the suicide bomber in Kabul targeted an Afghan army base.

   Campaigning for the Afghan elections resumed last week after President 
Donald Trump declared that the U.S.-Taliban talks which have been going on for 
months in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar are over.

   Most presidential candidates had suspended their campaigns while 
negotiations were taking place and as the U.S. peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, 
said a deal was all but signed.

   Trump's tweets at the beginning of September declaring the deal and the 
talks were "dead" launched the war-battered nation on an election campaign.

   Ghani, who had been sidelined during much of the talks between Khalilzad and 
the Taliban, resumed campaigning immediately and had been steadfast in his 
demand that presidential polls should take place.

   Khalilzad and some of Ghani's rivals, however had talked of establishing an 
interim administration to run the country while a peace deal was implemented.

   In the aftermath of the scrapped talks, Afghans braced for what many 
expected to be an increase in violence. The Taliban have refused to discuss a 
cease-fire and have stepped up attacks across Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Afghan 
forces, backed by their U.S. allies, have intensified raids on militant 
hideouts in recent weeks.

   The Taliban have also refused to meet with representatives of Ghani's 
government for talks but it was two attacks in Kabul in recent weeks that 
caused Trump to halt the negotiations with the Taliban, including one that 
killed two NATO soldiers, one of whom was an American. Another U.S. soldier 
died in combat in Afghanistan on Monday.

   Monday's death was the 17th U.S. combat death in Afghanistan this year, 
according to the Pentagon's count. There also have been three non-combat deaths 
this year. More than 2,400 Americans have died in the nearly 18-year war.

   Even as the bombs went off in Afghanistan, the Taliban were on the move 
looking for support.

   On Tuesday, the Afghan Taliban were in Iran visiting officials in Tehran, 
while last week they were in the Russian capital holding consultations with 
Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin's envoy for Afghanistan.

   Iran's semi-official Borna news agency on Tuesday quoted spokesman of the 
foreign ministry there, Abbas Mousavi, as saying the Afghan delegation 
discussed "the latest" developments with Iranian officials.