Kabul     -   At least 48 people have been killed in two separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

In Parwan province, to the north of Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted an election campaign rally where Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42.

Ghani was not hurt in the attack which happened at a checkpoint near the rally venue, according to Wahida Shahkar, a spokesperson for the governor of Parwan.

Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said that of the 26 people killed 22 were civilians and four were security staff. Women and children were among the victims, Rahimi confirmed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a media message from spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid.

In a separate incident hours later, a suicide bomb attack near the US embassy in central Kabul killed 22 people. According to the Ministry of Interior, a suicide bomber detonated himself with explosives at Masoud Square, killing mostly civilians and injuring 38.

Attacks are intensifying as the country prepares for its presidential election on September 28. The Taliban had said it would target election campaigns as well as polling stations and warned Afghans not to vote in the election.

On Twitter, President Ashraf Ghani called the perpetrators “a cowardly enemy”. 74 killed everyday in Afghanistan

An average of 74 people were killed every day in the country in August, according to data collected by the BBC.

Most of the casualties were those involved in combat, such as Taliban fighters, but a fifth were civilians, including children. The worst day for civilians was 18 August, when 112 were killed, including 92 at a wedding in Kabul.

The Taliban are estimated to be openly active across 70 percent of Afghanistan.

In June 2019, the country was named the least peaceful place in the world by the Global Peace Index report.

President Trump called off peace negotiations with the Taliban on 7 September after the militant group launched an attack that killed an American soldier.

Talks on ending the 18-year conflict had been under way for weeks in the Gulf state Qatar, and were, by some accounts, coming close to fruition.

China signals veto in standoff over UN Afghan mission

China and the United States are deadlocked over a United Nations Security Council resolution to extend the world body’s political mission in Afghanistan, with Beijing signalling it will cast a veto because there is no reference to its global Belt and Road infrastructure project, diplomats said.

A planned vote by the 15-member Security Council to renew the mission, known as UNAMA, was delayed from Monday to Tuesday to allow for further negotiations. The mission’s mandate expires on Tuesday. To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the US, France, China, Russia and Britain.

Ahead of the postponement, diplomats said China was expected to veto a resolution - drafted by Germany and Indonesia - that did not reference the Belt and Road project. China’s UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China was then planning to propose a vote on a short draft resolution, known as a technical rollover, to allow the mission to keep operating, diplomats said. But they added that it could fail to get the nine votes needed to pass because several council members were considering abstaining.

The UN mission, which was established in 2002, is helping Afghanistan prepare for September 28 elections and is pushing for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Talks between the US and the Taliban on a US military withdrawal fell apart earlier this month.