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Car bomb kills 18 in Afghanistan as Ramadan starts

Six others injured

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) - A car bombing killed at least 18 people Saturday morning in eastern Afghanistan, the latest strike in a war-weary nation now observing the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

The brazen attack belied the spirit of Ramadan, a period marked the world over by prayer, fasting and charity.

Six people also were wounded in the attack, carried out near a bus station in the city of Khost, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A suicide bomber driving an explosive-packed vehicle targeted an Afghan military convoy in the attack, according to Taliban Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

The incident comes during the spring offensive of the Taliban, the militant group that long has fought the government and US-led coalition forces, and as ISIS works to establish a presence in the country.

Building bridges

Ahead of Ramadan, the United Nations special representative in Afghanistan implored combatants to reflect on "those who have been affected by the prolonged conflict in the country."

"I sincerely hope that the observation of Ramadan will provide an opportunity for all communities in Afghanistan to come closer to each other and build bridges peacefully," Tadamichi Yamamoto said in a statement on Thursday.

"In the same spirit, I would like to call parties to the conflict to respect this religious obligation and halt the fighting," he said.

Afghan violence

Violence is common in Afghanistan, where militants and security forces regularly battle and civilians face threats.

A German woman was shot and killed and her Afghan guard beheaded a week ago when attackers targeted a guest house for aid workers in Kabul.

ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack last week on a television station in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. At least six people died.


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