Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 6 News List

One killed in Kabul car bomb attack

STRONG EXPLOSION:The attack came just days after the Afghan president unveiled a plan for peace talks with the Taliban and a proposal to recognize it as a political party

AFP, KABUL

Men clear broken windows from their office near the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

A suicide car bomb targeting a foreign forces convoy rocked eastern Kabul early yesterday, killing at least one civilian and injuring 22 in an area where many expatriates reside, the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs said.

Local media showed extensive damage to the facades of nearby houses and witnesses reported a strong explosion.

Security forces could be seen rushing to the scene as passersby helped move the wounded.

A horse was also badly injured in the blast and had to be shot dead in the street, a reporter at the scene said.

“Unfortunately, around 9am, a car bombing took place in [the] Qabil Bay area of Kabul. The target of the attack was a foreign forces convoy,” ministry spokesman Najib Danish said, giving the toll and adding that police are investigating.

His deputy, Nasrat Rahimi, said it was not clear if there were foreign casualties following the blast.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the latest to hit Kabul, one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians as both the Taliban and the Islamic State group step up their assaults on the city.

The bombing also comes just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unveiled a plan for peace talks with the Taliban, including a proposal to eventually recognize it as a political party.

Ghani revealed his plans in a speech during international peace talks in Kabul this week that went better than expected, with officials in Washington daring to hold out hope that the longest war in US history might be heading to a negotiated settlement.

US Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass hailed Ghani’s “very courageous stand” and his “commitment to pursue a peaceful settlement through talks” after more than 16 years of conflict, as officials said the onus was now on the Taliban to respond.

Before Ghani’s speech, the militants had called for direct talks with the US.

The Taliban has not yet offered a full response to the president’s proposal, but the apparent openness to negotiations on both sides has sparked cautious optimism.

More than 16,000 foreign troops are deployed in Afghanistan under the NATO mandate, mostly Americans who supervise Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism operations.

Since November last year, the US military has increased its air raids against Taliban positions, training camps and heroin laboratories, which are an important source of revenue for the group.

Despite the optimism, Kabul remains on high alert, fearing further violence.

US officials are also braced for more fighting in the spring.

Since mid-January, militants have stormed a luxury hotel, bombed a crowded street, raided a military compound and launched a suicide attack during the morning rush hour in the capital, killing more than 130 people.

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