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Blast in eastern Afghanistan kills 11, injures 20

The file photo shows Afghan security personnel arriving at the site of a car bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. (By AFP)

At least 11 people have been killed and dozens of others injured as a motorbike loaded with explosives blew up at a religious ceremony in Afghanistan's eastern province of Ghazni.

"The explosives detonated at a gathering in Gilan district of Ghazni Province," said spokesman for provincial governor Wahidullah Jumazada on Friday.

He said children were among the injured.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed the blast, but said 15 people had been killed.

He further said the explosives had been loaded on a motorbike parked near a house in a village where a Quran recitation was being held.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly assault, but the Taliban militants and Afghan government forces have regularly clashed in Ghazni.

Last month, at least 30 security personnel were killed and 24 others injured when a bomber detonated a Humvee full of explosives close to an army base in Ghazni.

Violence continues to take a heavy toll in Afghanistan even as the government and the Taliban have been holding negotiations in the Qatari capital, Doha, in an effort to end nearly two decades of war.

The latest violence comes as both sides in the Afghan peace process are taking a break until January 5, after reaching a preliminary agreement this month.

The preliminary deal is the first written agreement between the two warring sides since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The intra-Afghan negotiations had been set to take place in March, but were repeatedly delayed over a prisoner exchange made as part of a deal between the Taliban and the United States.

Under that deal, signed in February, the Taliban agreed to halt their attacks on international forces in return for the US military's phased withdrawal from Afghanistan and the prisoner exchange with Kabul.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the US and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington's so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

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