Afghanistan: Deadly Kabul truck-bomb toll rises

Abdul Ahid Wali Zada, a police spokesperson, said the bomb was planted in a rickshaw that detonated near the large mosque dating from the 12th century.

Underscoring the volatile situation, at least one rocket struck an Indian diplomatic compound in Kabul, as the delegations met a few blocks away.

The latest peace conference aimed at reinvigorating negotiations between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban will begin in Kabul today.

At the same time that last Wednesday's attack occurred, the Trump administration was trying to decide whether to send another 5,000 or so American troops there to bolster the Afghan forces' shaky efforts to defend the country from the Taliban and other resistance to the rule of President Ashraf Ghani and his government.

The protesters, holding a sit-in for a fifth day Tuesday near the bombing site, have demanded the resignation of Afghanistan's security chiefs, including national security adviser Hanif Atmar.

He told the meeting it was time for the Taliban to embrace peace or "face the consequences". According to American generals, if diplomacy fails, up to 5000 additional USA troops may be required to break the "stalemate" in Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the Afghan ministry initially told NBC News in the aftermath of the blast that at least 80 people had been killed, although that figure has now risen significantly.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani lashed out at Pakistan at the Kabul Process on Tuesday, alleging that it is waging an "undeclared war of aggression" against Afghanistan. He, however, made it clear that this was the last chance for the Taliban to join peace talks.

The developments come as the two nations have also engaged in a series of deadly cross-border clashes this year.

Ghani made the offer while addressing a peace conference he convened Tuesday in Kabul of regional and worldwide partners to discuss ways to end the deadly conflict in Afghanistan and boost cooperation to counter the Islamic State-led emerging regional threat of terrorism.

A massive truck bomb attack on Wednesday killed more than 80 people and wounded hundreds more, leading to violent protests over the lack of security.

Delegates from 23 nations and the European Union, the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are attending the two day meeting.

"The launch of the Kabul Process tomorrow is an important marker for each and every country in the region to show its true support for Afghanistan's aspirations for peace", said British ambassador Dominic Jermey on Monday.

Afghan authorities have said Pakistan was involved in the attack, charges denied by Islamabad.

One of the first things the 69-year-old party leader did upon his return was to urge the Afghan extremists to learn from his example and walk on the path towards peace.

  • Leroy Wright