At least five dead in suicide attack in Kabul: officials
A suicide attack rocked the Afghan capital Kabul early Tuesday killing at least five people, officials said, in what was the first major assault in the city in months. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes after nearly three months of relative calm in the capital. “This morning at around 7 am, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives… killing five people including two civilians and three military personnel.
Twelve were wounded, including five civilians,” said the ministry of interior’s spokesman Nasrat Rahimi. The ministry of defence confirmed the death toll but gave a smaller figure for the injured, saying at least six people were hurt in the attack. A witness near the scene in western Kabul said the blast happened near the Marshal Fahim military academy. “It was a big explosion that rocked our house. We also heard gunfire afterwards. Ambulances rushed to the area quickly,” resident Samiullah, who goes by one name, told AFP. The Kabul police chief confirmed the location, according to a local broadcaster. In recent weeks the Taliban have refrained from attacking major urban centres in an effort to keep talks with the US on track, though violence in the provinces has continued.
The last major attack in Kabul was in November when at least 12 people were killed after a minivan packed with explosives rammed into a vehicle carrying foreigners during morning rush hour. Four foreign nationals were among those wounded in the attack. The military academy has been the scene of several attacks in the past, including an Islamic State-claimed assault last May. Tuesday’s blast comes as Washington and the Taliban wrangle over a possible deal that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees. However, there appears to have been little progress in reaching a deal in recent weeks, prompting the insurgents to saddle blame on the White House and what they say are a growing list of demands by the Americans to pave the way for a deal.
The US and Taliban had been negotiating for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing ongoing Taliban violence. Talks were later restarted in December in Qatar, but paused again following an attack near the US-run Bagram military base in Afghanistan. As talks have fluctuated, violent attacks in the country have raged, with the number of clashes jumping to record levels in the last quarter of 2019, according to a recent US government watchdog report.