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A suicide bomber has killed at least 15 people in a crowded Afghanistan marketplace on Wednesday, an official said.
The attacker detonated an explosive vest among a group of shoppers at a bazaar at Almar in northern Faryab province, district governor Salih Salih told VICE News.
An additional 30 people were injured in the blast, Salih said, adding that the vast majority of the casualties were civilians, although one Afghan Army soldier was among the dead.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, but government forces recently launched an operation led by First Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostom aimed at clearing Almar of Taliban insurgents.
Attacks have been on the rise in Afghanistan since the bulk of US and allied foreign troops pulled out of the country at the beginning of 2014. Local forces are now responsible for most security duties, although some 13,000 foreign personnel remain in the country to provide training and conduct counter-terrorism operations.
Violence intensified with the beginning of the Taliban's spring offensive in April, which has inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan military and police.
The militants have continued with attacks despite taking part in preliminary peace talks with the Kabul government in Pakistan on July 7 — the first ever officially acknowledged face-to-face meetings.
Many in the international community welcomed the development as a first step towards ending 13 years of devastating violence, which began in 2001 when the Taliban was removed from power by a US-led invasion.
Further talks are planned, at which point ceasefire discussions are set to take place, according to Afghan officials.
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