KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban's second in command and head of the militant Haqqani network has denied any involvement in recent deadly attacks in Kabul and western Afghanistan.
In an audio message sent late Sunday by a Taliban spokesman, Sirajuddin Haqqani condemned the suicide truck bombing in Kabul on May 31 that killed at least 150 people, which was followed by more suicide attacks during a funeral and a bombing near a mosque in Herat province.
Afghan security officials have accused the Haqqani network of being behind the attack in Kabul. But Sirajuddin Haqqani insisted that none of the three attacks was planned by the Taliban and that the Taliban do not plan attacks in which civilians are harmed.
No one has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani last week confirmed the death toll for the massive suicide truck bombing in Kabul had surpassed 150, making it the deadliest single attack in the 16 years since the U.S. campaign to defeat the Taliban. More than 300 other were wounded in the bombing.
Afghan authorities have alleged that the Pakistani government was involved — charges denied by Islamabad. The two countries have often accused each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along their porous border.
The Taliban have steadily expanded their reach since the U.S. and international forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. An Islamic State affiliate has meanwhile emerged and carried out several large attacks in the country.
Haqqani said in the audio message that while the Taliban was not involved in the recent attacks, its fighters will continue to wage war until all "foreign invaders" have withdrawn from Afghanistan.
Following the truck bombing in Kabul, six people were killed when a trio of suicide bombers struck a funeral attended by senior government officials. Nearly 90 others were wounded when three explosions rocked a cemetery where Salim Ezadyar, the son of a senior Afghan parliamentarian, was about to be buried. Ezadyar was one of several people killed a day earlier when police clashed with protesters demanding better security in the capital.
Last week in western Herat province, a bomb planted in a rickshaw detonated killing at least seven people and wounding eight others. The blast took place near the main Sunni mosque in Herat city. No one has claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile, the Afghan presidential palace in a statement Sunday night said two of the country's top security officials were suspended in the wake of the violence in Kabul.
Kabul Police Chief Gen. Shah Hassan Frogh and Kabul Garrison Commander Gen. Gul Nabi Ahmadzai were suspended from duty after an investigation by the attorney general's office found they were responsible for lapses in security.