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13 killed in 'Taliban attack' in north Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This January 2, 2016 photo shows Afghan residents in front of a damaged car near the site of a bomb attack in Kabul. (AFP photo)

A major attack targeting a police commander in northern Afghanistan has killed more than a dozen people, officials say.

The police commander of the Afghan province of Parwan said on Monday that the bomb attack happened near a clinic and a market, killing 13 people and injuring 19 others.

General Zaman Mamozai said nine civilians were among the dead while two security forces were also injured, including the police commander who was targeted in the bombing.

Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to the media.

The group has increased its attacks on security forces and civilians across Afghanistan, triggering concerns that the once-ruling militants could benefit from the fragile security to capture territories in the country.

Earlier on Monday, Afghan troops pulled out of a second district in the southern province of Helmand, leaving the Taliban in control of most of the northern part of the province. Military officials in Kabul said the withdrawal from Nawzad district was tactical, saying troops would concentrate their strength on defending the area.

The Taliban militants are facing ever-increasing internal rifts. Factions have been formed inside Taliban after the news broke last year of the death of its founder and leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The latest attack came two days after a series of roadside bombs killed 11 people in the southeastern province of Paktika. 

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