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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Two suicide bomb attacks after Afghanistan and US sign security deal

Taliban vehemently opposed to the security agreement

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KABUL, Afghanistan - At least seven Afghan soldiers were killed and 20 wounded when two suicide bombers attacked military transport vehicles Wednesday, a day after the United States and Afghanistan signed a key security pact allowing American troops to stay in the war-ravaged nation beyond 2014.

Taliban, vehemently opposed to the security agreement that also gives US forces immunity from the Afghan law in case of any criminal case, in a statement claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The insurgent group said that the attacks were in retaliation to the deal signed on Tuesday between the two governments.

"By signing the agreement, the status of the Kabul administration, in particular the status of soldiers and police, is clear," the Taliban said in the statement.

"They are working for the interests of others, and their killing is important."

According to police, a suicide bomber, wearing an explosive vest, boarded a bus and exploded the bomb in the Karte Char neighborhood of Kabul.

The blast killed seven soldiers and wounded 15 people, including civilians, said Hashmatullah Stanikzai, the spokesman for the police in Kabul.

Stanikzai said the second attack also targeted a bus in the Deh Sabz area, injuring four soldiers.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan, particularly in the summer of 2014.

According to security experts and Afghan watchers, the army and the police have sustained heavy casualties from a withering Taliban offensive.

Afghan officials have said that the past six months, starting in late March, were the deadliest for police officers in the 13-year war in Afghanistan. Police casualties have typically been double the level of those of the army, according to The New York Times.

Wednesday's attacks were one of the deadliest in Kabul in recent times. Two weeks ago, a suicide car bomber killed three coalition soldiers and wounded five others at the gates of an American military base in the city.

The attacks on Wednesday came on the heels of the inauguration of a new president, Ashraf Ghani, who was elected in a drawn-out process that required sustained international involvement. One of Ghani's chief tasks will be to bolster the security forces.

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