KABUL, Afghanistan

A powerful car bombing killed and wounded dozens of people, mostly civilians, in Afghanistan’s Logar province on the eve of a landmark cease-fire, officials confirmed late Thursday.

Tariq Arian, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said in a statement that the “unforgivable crime” by the terrorists took place in the provincial capital Pul-i- Alam late in the evening on Thursday.

He confirmed at least nine people were killed, including six security forces, and over 30 others injured with almost all being civilians.

“The Taliban as facilitators of terrorist activities in Afghanistan cannot deny their involvement in this incident,” Arian said.

According to Deedar Lawang, the spokesman for the provincial governor, the blast ripped through a crowd of civilians busy in shopping for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. He feared the death toll could surge.

The Taliban denied involvement in the attack. Meanwhile, their political office spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted that the group has completed release of all 1,000 security forces in line with the deal they signed with the US.

The Taliban on Tuesday announced a surprise cease-fire in Afghanistan during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

In a short statement, the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said “Mujahedeen” are directed to cease-fire during three days of Eid starting from July 31.

“Also, all the ‘Mujahedeen’ (Taliban insurgents) must stay attentive that no one (among them) is allowed to go to enemy’s areas (government-controlled areas) and ‘enemy elements’ are not allowed to enter our areas,” said the statement issued in Dari and Pashto languages.

Earlier, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani pledged to “soon” wrap-up the troubled prison swap with the Taliban and urged the insurgents to get ready for talks in a week.

Ghani reciprocated the Taliban move instructing all the security and defense forces in the country to observe the three-day truce while pushing for a permanent cease-fire.

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