14 killed, 145 hurt in Kabul blast

Kabul, August 7

At least 14 persons were killed and 145 wounded in a massive bomb blast today as fresh violence gripped Kabul even as insurgents appeared to be closing in on a peace deal with the US.

The Afghan interior ministry said the explosion was caused by a car bomb, but the Taliban, which claimed the attack, said it was a much larger truck bomb. An Afghan security official also told AFP it was a truck bomb.

A huge plume of black smoke was seen rising over western Kabul following a massive explosion at the entrance to a police compound around 9 am (0430 GMT).

The bloodshed in the capital comes amid an ongoing surge in attacks across Afghanistan, where 1,500 persons were killed or injured last month alone.

Images on social media showed toppled blast walls surrounding several largely destroyed buildings in a compound. Afghan authorities said at least 10 civilians and four police officers had been killed. Another 145 persons, including 92 civilians, were wounded.

“As the air cleared, I saw several women crying, desperately looking for their husbands or children near the blast site,” local journalist Zakeria Hasani, who lives near the police station, told AFP.

The US and the Taliban met in Doha this week for an eighth round of talks aimed at striking a peace deal that would slash the American military presence in Afghanistan. Despite the bloodshed sweeping the nation, both sides have cited “excellent progress”.

The attack came after the Taliban warned Afghans on Tuesday to keep away from public gatherings ahead of the Presidential election planned for September 28.

The Taliban ordered their fighters to “stand against” the polls, and previous elections have been rocked by frequent attacks by militants trying to undermine Afghanistan’s fragile democracy.

The blast was not the only violence to rock the Afghan capital in the past 24 hours.

Afghan commandos stormed three Islamic State group houses in Kabul, officials said. Despite non-stop strikes from the US and Afghan forces, the Middle Eastern jihadist group has maintained a persistent presence in Afghanistan since 2015. The houses were being used as bomb factories, the Afghan intelligence service said in a statement.  — AFP

No let-up in violence despite peace talks

  • There has been no let-up in violence in Afghanistan even though the Taliban and the US appear close to a historic pact for US troops to withdraw in exchange for a Taliban promise the country would not be used as a base from which to plot attacks by extremists
  • Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said: “Again a Taliban suicide attack in Kabul targets a civilian area that resulted in harming so many innocents. Continued Taliban attacks indicate that they have no commitment to peace.”