KABUL, Afghanistan

A landmine blast in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province on Thursday killed at least five civilians and injured six others, all members of a single family, officials confirmed.

Jamal Nasir, spokesman for the local police command, told Anadolu Agency the incident took place in the province’s Panjwai district. He said women and children are among the dead and wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, apparently aimed at the family members of a local police commander.

Condemning the attack, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani urged the Taliban to respond positively to calls for peace and to stop planting roadside bombs.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry accused the Taliban of killing at least 121 civilians and wounding more than 300 in the past two weeks as the two sides gear up for key talks on peace in the country.

It said the Taliban staged attacks in 29 out of the country’s 34 province, with Kandahar, Baghlan, Nangarhar, and Logar suffering the worst.

“Targeting civilians is against all principles and the values of humanity, religion, morality, and war, which the Taliban have always ignored,” it said in a statement.

The Taliban issued a rebuff, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claiming in a tweet that casualties come from its “enemy’s aerial bombings, raids and [using] heavy weapons in attacks,”

The insurgents also said a US drone strike on civilians in the Logar province on Wednesday had killed at least three people.

According to officials, the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents are set later this month to kick-start much-awaited intra-Afghan talks for peace in Doha, Qatar.

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