"One hopes this meeting today in Kabul provides more clarity from Washington", said Davood Moradian, director of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies in Kabul. In another blast at Herat's Grand Mosque, seven people were killed on Tuesday.
Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and other high-ranking officials were said to be present at the time of blasts. A U.S. watchdog said last month that a record number of civilians died in 2016, 16 years after then-U.S. President George W. Bush first sent special forces to the country after the September 11 attacks to topple the Taliban regime which sheltered al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
As officials from around the world gathered in Kabul for a peace conference, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that far more people were killed in last week's massive truck-bomb explosion than initially reported - more than 150, making it the deadliest attack in the capital in years.
Last week's devastating attack inside Kabul's diplomatic district - arguably the most secure territory in the war-ravaged country - led to loss of over 80 innocent lives.
"We are ready to help address the shared threat of violent extremists to the region but Afghanistan should desist from externalizing its internal problems", she said in an interview with Voice of America. They were there to pay homage to Salim Ezidyar, the slain son of Mohammad Elim Ezidyar - deputy speaker of the parliament's upper house- who died on Friday when people protesting against Wednesday's truck bombing clashed with police.
The uptick in violence this week coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a period marked by both fasting and contemplation.More news: Mexico score incredible last minute equalizer against Portugal
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Police have locked down much of the city ahead of the conference, with more armed checkpoints and armored vehicles patrolling the streets.
"The Kabul administration wants peace talks only for the Taliban to surrender but this fake process will never succeed", said Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement sent to media, including VOA.
"We fear that the protests could become a target".
The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.
The United Nations and a host of worldwide allies have urged restraint by all sides.