Taliban insurgents continued with their nearly daily attacks in Afghanistan early Thursday morning when a suicide truck bomb detonated at a hospital in the southern region of the country, killing as many as 20 people and wounding nearly 100 others.
The massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.
The provincial governor, Rahmatullah Yarmal, said that many of the causalities were women and children who were probably visiting loved ones at the hospital.
On Twitter, an Afghan National Security Forces personnel posted a picture of a six-month-old child saying they were searching for the child’s parents through the rubble. They were asking for the public’s help.
The blast also destroyed parts of a mosque adjacent to the hospital and the hospital building. Mahboob Hakimi, a resident of Qalat, told the Associated Press morning prayers has just finished when the blast detonated.
He said that the windows in his home more than a mile away had been shattered by the powerful explosion.
The Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attack, said in a tweet that the target of the suicide bomber was a nearby intelligence office. A Taliban spokesman claimed that the office had been destroyed and “tens of intelligence operatives killed/wounded.”
Atta Jan Haqbayan, head of the provincial council, told the AP that a wall of the National Security Department (NDS) building was damaged. He couldn’t say whether any personnel were among the casualties.
President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, condemned the attack in Zabul, tweeting that the Taliban "continue to target civilians while their leaders travel to Iran and Russia," a reference to the Taliban negotiators recent forays seeking support abroad.
Meanwhile, hours earlier, a drone attack in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province blamed on U.S. forces killed at least 16 and wounded several others, mostly civilians.
The U.S. forces in Afghanistan said they carried out a strike in eastern Nangarhar targeting Islamic State positions in the area.
"We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts," said Col. Sonny Legget, U.S. Forces- Afghanistan.
Angry residents of the area where the strike occurred carried 12 of the bodies to the provincial capital Jalalabad Thursday morning protesting the attack, said provincial council head Ahmad Ali Hazrat. Many more people are believed to be missing.
The bombing in Qalat on Thursday was the latest act of violence by Taliban leaders, who have carried out nearly daily attacks since peace talks with the U.S. collapsed earlier this month.
Two separate bombings on Tuesday, including one that targeted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's election rally, killed 48 people, mostly civilians. The Taliban took responsibility for both attacks.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai made an appeal to Taliban leaders to end their attacks and to negotiate with Afghans, saying that the country can construct its own peace deal without the U.S. and ask for American troops to leave.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.