The death toll from an attack against the Kabul office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate and former chief of the intelligence service yesterday climbed to at least 20 people, an official said.
About 50 others were wounded in Sunday’s attack against the Green Trend party headquarters, which lasted hours and included a gunbattle between security forces and the attackers, who were holed up inside the building, according to Afghan Ministry of the Interior spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.
Several gunmen were killed by the security forces, Rahimi said.
The attackers’ potential target, vice presidential candidate and former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, was “evacuated from the building and moved to a safe location,” Rahimi said.
About 85 other civilians were also rescued from inside.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in the capital and have carried out large-scale attacks in Kabul in the past.
The Taliban have also been staging near-daily attacks across Afghanistan even as they hold talks with the US about a peaceful resolution to the 18-year war, although they refuse to directly negotiate with the government.
Sunday was the first day of the Afghan presidential campaign, with a vote scheduled for Sept. 28.
After the attack, Ghani tweeted that Saleh was unharmed during the “complex attack” targeting the Green Trend office.
Saleh founded the Green Trend after he was sacked as intelligence chief in 2010 by former Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
Though a relative newcomer on the political scene, its focus has been democracy and reform while fiercely opposing the Taliban and their extremist ideology.
Ferdous Faramarz, the spokesman for Kabul’s police chief, said the attack started with a suicide car bombing, after which other attackers entered the building and started shooting at security forces.
The explosion was large enough to be heard throughout the capital.
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