Kabul blasts: At least 8 killed, 31 injured in series of rocket explosions in Afghan capital ahead of Pompeo's visit

The explosions hit various parts of central and north Kabul, including in and around the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses embassies and international firms

Agence France-Presse November 21, 2020 14:30:30 IST
Kabul blasts: At least 8 killed, 31 injured in series of rocket explosions in Afghan capital ahead of Pompeo's visit

Representational image. AP

Kabul: At least eight people were killed and 31 injured on Saturday when a barrage of rockets slammed into different parts of Kabul, marking the latest attack in a wave of violence sweeping the Afghan capital.

The explosions hit various parts of central and north Kabul, including in and around the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses embassies and international firms — just before 9.00 am (04.30 GMT).

The Iranian embassy said on Twitter that its main building had been hit by rocket fragments after a missile landed on the premises. No one on the compound, located just outside the Green Zone, was wounded.

Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian blamed the Taliban, saying "terrorists" had fired a total of 23 rockets.

"Based on initial information, eight people were martyred, and 31 others were wounded," Arian said, noting the final toll would change.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz confirmed the details.

The shells were fired from two cars, Arian said. The attack also targeted the posh Wazir Akbar Khan area of the capital, which houses diplomatic missions.

The Taliban denied responsibility, saying they "do not blindly fire on public places".

At least one rocket landed in an office inside the Green Zone, but did not explode.

Photos and videos circulating online showed several buildings with damaged walls and windows, including at a large medical complex.

Recent big attacks in Kabul, including two horrific assaults on educational institutions that killed nearly 50 people in recent weeks, follow a familiar pattern in the aftermath, with the Taliban denying any involvement while the Afghan government pins the blame on them or their proxies.

"The rocket attack in Kabul city has nothing to do with the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, using the insurgents' name for Afghanistan.

The Taliban are under pressure not to attack urban areas, having pledged not to do so under the terms of a US withdrawal deal signed in February.

Any acknowledgement of overt involvement in such incidents could in theory slow the American pull-out, though outgoing US President Donald Trump has made clear he wants US forces out regardless of the situation on the ground.

The Islamic State group claimed the two attacks on educational centres, but Kabul said the Taliban's ultra-violent Haqqani network was responsible.

Pompeo heads to Doha

Taliban and Afghan government negotiators launched peace talks in Doha in September but progress has been slow and violence has raged across Afghanistan regardless.

Officials told AFP on Friday however that a breakthrough was expected to be announced in the coming days, and the US State Department announced late Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would meet negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government in Doha.

Trump has repeatedly vowed to end "forever wars", including in Afghanistan, America's longest-ever conflict, which began with an invasion to dislodge the Taliban following the 11 September, 2001 attacks.

President-elect Joe Biden, in a rare point of agreement with Trump, also advocates winding down the Afghanistan war although analysts believe he will not be as wedded to a quick timetable.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would soon pull about 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 by mid-2021.

In the past six months, the Taliban has carried out 53 suicide attacks and 1,250 explosions that left 1,210 civilians dead and 2,500 wounded, interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said this week.

The interior ministry said two small "sticky bomb" explosions had been reported earlier Saturday morning, including one that hit a police car, killing one policeman and wounding three others.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

US grants Iraq 45-day sanctions waiver allowing import of Iran gas before Joe Biden takes office
World

US grants Iraq 45-day sanctions waiver allowing import of Iran gas before Joe Biden takes office

Previously, such waivers were granted for 120 days but the periods have now been reduced in what some view as part of Donald Trump’s effort to raise pressure on Iran

Joe Biden inherits an Afghanistan situation with the baggage of Pakistan and resurgent Taliban
World

Joe Biden inherits an Afghanistan situation with the baggage of Pakistan and resurgent Taliban

Given the dynamics at play, India is reduced to a mute spectator as are the other neighbouring countries like Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan who have their own sovereign, sectarian, ethnic and strategic interests at stake, with the evolving narrative

Riyadh denies reports of meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and MBS
World

Riyadh denies reports of meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and MBS

Israeli public broadcaster Kan and other media said Netanyahu and Mossad spy agency chief Yosef Meir Cohen had met the de facto Saudi ruler, together with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, in the Red Sea city of Neom on Sunday