ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Taliban insurgents detonated a vehicle-born bomb in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing at least three people and injuring 15 others.
Afghan officials said a stolen explosive-laden Humvee military vehicle was being driven toward a security-related compound in the provincial capital of Ghazni, but police forces intercepted and fired rockets at it.
The clash prompted the suicide bomber to prematurely explode the bomb, a senior security official told VOA Afghan news service.
Ramzan Ali Mohsini, the chief of security directorate in Ghazni, said the blast killed two police officers and a child while rescue teams transported 15 injured people to hospital, including 10 civilians.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement the clash killed a total of four Taliban assailants but it did not elaborate further.
The Taliban took credit for carrying out the suicide bombing. Its main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed the blast 'killed and wounded tens of security forces,' although insurgent claims are often inflated.
The latest violence comes as U.S. special reconciliation representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, is due to appear Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for a closed hearing on the Afghan peace process and his ongoing negotiations with the Taliban to try to bring an end to the war.
Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with insurgent representatives in Qatar, where the Taliban maintains its informal political office. The two sides have reported 'steady but slow progress' on key issues under discussions. The Taliban has refused to cease hostilities, however, until it reaches an agreement with the U.S. on withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan.