A suicide bomb blast killed at least 26 people near President Ghani's campaign rally in Afghanistan's Parwan province, officials said. A blast in Kabul killed another 22 people.

Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. September 17, 2019.
Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. September 17, 2019. (Reuters)

At least 48 people were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday as two explosions hit a presidential campaign rally in northern Parwan province and Kabul.

The Taliban militant group claimed responsibility for both blasts.

A suicide bomber on a motorbike targeted a campaign rally by President Ashraf Ghani in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 26 people and wounding 42, officials said. 

Ghani was present at the venue but was unharmed, according to his campaign chief.

The death toll was confirmed by the chief of a nearby hospital to which the victims were transferred.

The bomber rammed his motorbike packed with explosives into the entrance of the venue where Ghani was campaigning on the outskirts of the city of Charakar in northern Parwan province.

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

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

The president's campaign spokesman, Hamed Aziz, says that Ghani was there but that he is safe and unharmed. Aziz said he would provide more details later.

Kabul blast

A blast in the centre of Afghanistan's capital Kabul killed at least 22 people and a further 38 wounded, police officials said.

"We are investigating whether it was a suicide attack or whether a magnetic bomb was attached to a motorbike," interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

The blast took place near Massood Square, a deeply-congested intersection in the centre of Kabul. 

NATO and US compounds are located nearby as are several Afghan government ministries.

Trump-Taliban deal

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

Most presidential candidates suspended their campaigns while negotiations were taking place and as the US 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 had earlier warned that polling stations and election campaigns would be targeted.

The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces will provide security for nearly 5,000 of the almost 5,400 polling centres. 

The remaining 431 centres located in remote districts will not open on election day due to the militants' presence, according to election officials.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies