12:00 AM, September 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:15 AM, September 12, 2018

100 killed in Afghan violence

Suicide attack on protesters kill 32; Taliban offensive leaves nearly 60 dead

Nearly 100 people were killed in suicide blasts and Taliban attacks across Afghanistan in the last two days, dampening hopes for peace talks and elections.

There were chaotic scenes at several hospitals as medical staff struggled to treat 128 people wounded by the powerful blast in Nangarhar province yesterday.

Gul Majid was among scores of protesters blocking the highway between the provincial capital of Jalalabad and a major Pakistan border crossing when he "heard a big bomb".

"Then I saw flesh, blood and people wounded all around me," Majid told AFP outside one of the hospitals.

"I am still looking for my friends. I don't know whether they are alive or dead."

The men had been protesting over the appointment of a local police chief, provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said.

Provincial health director Najibullah Kamawal and Khogyani both confirmed the latest casualty toll to 32.

The attack came hours after a double bombing in front of a girls' school in the provincial capital Jalalabad, which killed a boy and wounded four others.

The first explosion happened in front of Malika Omaira girls' school at around 8:30 am, Khogyani told AFP earlier.

A second bomb went off as students from a neighbouring boys' school and locals gathered at the scene, he added.

There has been no claim of responsibility for any of the attacks, but the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) group are active in Nangarhar.

TALIBAN ATTACK

Taliban fighters killed nearly 60 members of Afghanistan's beleaguered security forces in a spate of attacks across the country's north, officials said Monday, as diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year war intensify.

After seizing a military base in Sar-e-Pul, Taliban fighters were threatening the provincial capital in a situation that could result in "disaster" if reinforcements were not sent, the area's police chief Abdul Qayom Baqizoy warned.

Baqizoy compared the threat to the Taliban's extraordinary raid last month on the provincial capital of Ghazni -- fighters held large parts of the city located just two hours from Kabul for days.

At least 17 security forces have been killed near Sar-e-Pul city after militants seized a checkpoint in Sayyad district and burned it to the ground, provincial governor Zahir Wahdat told journalists Monday.

Air support has been called in, he said. About 39 Taliban fighters have been killed and 14 wounded.

"The fighting is still ongoing near the city and the central government is going to send more reinforcements soon," Wahdat said.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan's north, the Taliban's elite Red unit attacked several police posts in Kunduz, killing at least 19 officers and wounding around 20, Dasht-e-Archi district chief Nasruddin Saadi told AFP.

Insurgents also raided two police checkpoints in Dara-e-Suf district of Samangan province, killing 14 officers, northern Afghanistan police spokesman Sarwar Hussaini said.

In Jowzjan province hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed Khomab district centre, near Turkmenistan, killing eight security force members and seizing control of government headquarters, provincial deputy police chief Abdul Hafeez Khashi told AFP.

The increased violence comes as Afghan and international players ratchet up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, which was toppled from power by US-led forces in 2001.

'DISASTER'

The intensified fighting has also fuelled speculation over whether Afghanistan's long-delayed parliamentary elections will go ahead on October 20.

The country's already overstretched security forces will be tasked with protecting thousands of polling stations around the country at a time when they are already struggling to beat back insurgents.

Delivering ballot papers and monitoring the vote, which is seen as a test run for next year's presidential election, will be challenging, officials have warned.

There are already concerns about widespread fraud.