A suicide attack targeting a military academy early yesterday killed at least five people in Kabul in what was the first major assault in the city in months.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the dawn attack, which came after nearly three months of relative calm in the capital.
Five people were killed and at least six injured in the attack, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said.
However, Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said in a statement that six people — two civilians and four military personnel — were killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at about 7am.
Twelve were wounded, including five civilians, he added.
A witness near the scene in western Kabul said that the blast happened near Marshal Fahim National Defense University, where security officers are trained in the country.
“It was a big explosion that rocked our house. We also heard gunfire afterwards. Ambulances rushed to the area quickly,” said local resident Samiullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name.
A security source speaking on condition of anonymity told reporters that the attacker was on foot when he targeted a vehicle near a checkpoint as it was entering the academy.
Over the past few weeks, the Taliban have refrained from attacking major urban centers in an effort to keep talks with the US on track, although violence in the provinces has continued.
The last major attack in Kabul was in November last year, 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 in May last year.
Yesterday’s blast came 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 the past few weeks, prompting the insurgents to saddle blame on the White House and what they have said are a growing list of demands by the US to pave the way for a deal.
The US and the Taliban had been negotiating for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September last year when US 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 US-run Bagram Airfield 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 last year, a US government watchdog report said.
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