Conflict

Eight civilians killed, dozens injured as 23 rockets hit Afghan capital Kabul

Photo: Reuters

Kabul: At least eight civilians were killed and dozens injured on Saturday after twenty three rockets hit the “heavily fortified Green Zone” where many embassies and international firms are based in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Quoting Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the interior ministry, a report by international news organisation Aljazeera, said,  “terrorists” mounted the rockets on a small truck and set them off, adding an investigation was under way to find out how the vehicle came inside the city undetected.

“Based on initial information eight people were martyred and 31 others were wounded,” the report quoted Arian saying, noting the final toll would change. Talking to the news organisation, the Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz have confirmed the same tolls and details.

As videos and photos of projectiles being launched shot by the some residents and posted on social media. Several images circulating on Facebook showed damaged cars and a hole in the side of a building.

Taliban fighters, battling against a foreign-backed Kabul administration, denied involvement in the attack saying they “do not blindly fire on public places”, said the report by Aljazeera.

“The rocket attack in Kabul city has nothing to do with the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate,”  the report quoted Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying, using the insurgents’ name for Afghanistan.

The report added that barrage sent warning sirens blaring from embassy compounds and came two days before a major donor conference for Afghanistan in Geneva, Switzerland.

Quoting  the interior ministry, the report said that two small “sticky bomb” explosions had been reported earlier Saturday, including one that hit a police car, killing one policeman and wounding three others.

Since peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban stalled, attacks by it and other armed groups have been on the rise, especially in the capital that is home to more than five million Afghans.

A report by international news AFP agency while quoting officials said that a breakthrough in negotiations was expected to be announced in the coming days.

Pertinently, the US State Department announced late on Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would meet negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to end “forever wars” including in Afghanistan – the United States’s longest-ever conflict that began with an invasion to dislodge the Taliban following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the report said.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon, according to the report, said it would soon pull some 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline established in a February agreement between Washington and the Taliban that envisions a full US withdrawal in mid-2021.

Quoting Arian, the report said, in the past six months, the Taliban carried out 53 suicide attacks and 1,250 bombings that killed 1,210 civilians and wounded 2,500 others.

Early this month, several gunmen stormed Kabul University’s campus and killed at least 35 people, mostly students, and wounded more than 50 others, the report claimed.

 

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