At least 30 Taliban fighters have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in Afghanistan during a bomb-making class.
The 209th Shaheen Corps – part of the Afghan National Army – said in a statement that 30 fighters including six foreign nationals who were expert mine makers, had been killed in an explosion on Saturday morning.
The blast happened at a mosque in the village of Qultaq in the Dowlatabad district of Balkh province.
The statement said the bodies of the six foreign nationals could not be identified because of damage caused by the blast.
The Taliban fighters had gathered at the mosque to be trained in how to make bombs and IEDs, the Khaama Press News Agency reported.
The blast happened at a mosque in the village of Qultaq in the Dowlatabad district of Balkh province on Saturday morning
In a separate incident, two children were killed by an IED planted by the Taliban in Qotar Blaq village in Kunduz province, security officials reported.
The deaths come as Taliban attacks and violence have surged across Afghanistan in recent months despite stalled peace talks with the Kabul government.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance will not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan ‘before the time is right’, ahead of a discussion by defence ministers on the deployment.
The 209th Shaheen Corps – part of the Afghan National Army – said in a statement that 30 fighters including six foreign nationals had been killed in the blast
The ministers of the 30 NATO member states will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to hold their highest-level talks since US President Joe Biden took office vowing to work closer with allies after four years of tensions under Donald Trump.
Top of the agenda for the virtual conference will be the fate of the alliance’s 9,600-strong support mission in Afghanistan after Trump struck a deal with the Taliban to withdraw troops.
The deployment’s future hinges on whether Biden agrees to stick to a May deadline to pull out foreign forces or risks a bloody backlash from the Islamist insurgents by staying put.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (pictured) said the alliance will not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan ‘before the time is right’, ahead of a discussion by defence ministers on the deployment
Biden’s administration says it is reviewing the deal, and the Pentagon has accused the Taliban of not fulfilling promises that include reducing attacks and cutting ties to insurgent groups like Al-Qaeda.
Defence ministers are not expected to make a concrete announcement on the deployment’s future at their meeting.
The Taliban has warned NATO ministers not to seek a ‘continuation of occupation and war’.
‘The Taliban must reduce violence, negotiate in good faith and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with national terrorist groups,’ Stoltenberg said.
‘Our common goal is clear. Afghanistan should never again serve as a haven for terrorists to attack our homelands.’
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