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AFP
May 31, 2020

Ready for talks with Taliban, says Kabul

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AFP
May 31, 2020

KABUL: A roadside bomb killed a television journalist here on Saturday, soon after a top Afghan official appointed to lead peace talks with the Taliban said his team was ready for the long-delayed dialogue.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the blast, which targeted a minibus carrying 15 employees of private television channel Khurshid TV.

The explosion, which claimed the lives of a reporter and a driver, punctuated an overall reduction in violence that has followed on from a three-day ceasefire the Taliban instigated May 24.

Just hours before the blast, Afghanistan´s former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has been appointed to head talks with the Taliban, said his team was positioned to start the dialogue.

Abdullah credited the general lull in violence for setting the tone for discussions.

"The ceasefire, a reduction in violence and the exchange of prisoners have all paved the way for a good beginning," Abdullah said in his first press conference since taking on the role.

"The negotiating team is ready to begin the talks at any moment," he said. However, he insisted on a fresh ceasefire during the talks.

No group claimed responsibility for Saturday´s bombing in central Kabul.

Khurshid TV´s news director Jawed Farhad confirmed the attack, which left the station´s white minibus with extensive damage to its front end.

"The target of the blast was the vehicle of Khurshid private TV," the interior ministry said in a statement.

It was the second such attack targeting Khurshid employees in less than a year.

In August 2019, two passers-by were killed when a "sticky bomb" -- a type of homemade explosive attached to vehicles with magnets -- struck a similar Khurshid TV van in an unclaimed attack.