30 Taliban fighters killed after explosion at bomb-making class in Afghan mosque

A group of Taliban fighters who were taking part in a bomb-making class have died in an explosion at a mosque in Afghanistan.

A Facebook post by the 209th Shaheen Corps, which is part of the Afghan National Army, said at least 30 fighters have been killed by the blast on Saturday morning.

They were expert makers and the death toll includes six foreign nationals.

The deadly blast happened at a mosque in the village of Qultaq, located in the Dowlatabad district of Balkh province.

The statement also said the bodies of the foreign nationals could not be identified because of damage caused by the explosion.

The dead fighters were being trained in how to make bombs and IEDs.

A separate blast in Afghanistan claimed the lives of two children.

The youngsters died when an IED planted by the Taliban exploded in Qotar Blaq village in Kunduz province, security officials reported.

The deaths come as Taliban attacks and violence have risen in Afghanistan in recent months.

This is despite stalled peace talks with the Kabul government.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the alliance will not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan ‘before the time is right’.

He added: “The Taliban must reduce violence, negotiate in good faith and live up to their commitment to stop cooperating with national terrorist groups.

“Our common goal is clear. Afghanistan should never again serve as a haven for terrorists to attack our homelands.”

Ministers of the 30 NATO member states will take part in a virtual conference on Wednesday and Thursday where they will have their highest-level talks since Joe Biden was sworn in as the US President.

They have vowed to work closer with allies after four years of tensions when Donald Trump was the US leader.

At the top of the agenda will be the fate of the alliance’s 9,600-strong support mission in Afghanistan as Trump struck a deal with the Taliban to withdraw troops.

The deployment will depend on whether President Biden agrees to stick to a May deadline to pull out foreign forces as his administration are reviewing the deal.

If anything changes there could be a dangerous backlash from the Islamist insurgents.

The Taliban has warned NATO ministers not to seek a ‘continuation of occupation and war’.