Taliban bomb Kabul amid peace talk ‘progress’

A huge bomb outside a police station in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 14 people and injured nearly 150.

The explosion sent a large plume of black smoke into the sky and left nearby buildings in ruins. Most of those wounded were civilians.

The Taliban say they carried out the attack.

It comes amid peace talks between the Taliban and the US, which aim to bring a nearly 18-year conflict to an end. Both sides say they have made progress.

Afghanistan’s interior ministry said a car bomb was used in the attack, but the Taliban said they had detonated a truck bomb, which is much larger. The Taliban also claimed they had targeted a “recruitment” centre and had killed a large number of police and soldiers.

Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the vehicle carrying the explosives had been stopped at a checkpoint outside the police station. It was during these security checks that the bomb was detonated.

One witness told the BBC: “I was driving in the area when I heard a terrible sound of the explosion, and my car was shaking. Right after that, I saw windows of nearby shops blowing up.”

Despite the Taliban and the US being close to a historic pact, there has been a recent surge in attacks across the country.

In the last month alone about 1,500 people have been killed or injured. On Tuesday another bombing in Kabul, targeting a vehicle carrying workers from the counter-narcotics directorate, killed five people and wounded seven.

The Taliban also called for a boycott of the country’s 28 September presidential election, and threatened to attack election rallies.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, told a news conference yesterday: “Continued Taliban attacks indicate that they have no commitment to peace, unfortunately. Any Taliban attack will impede the peace process.”

An end to the violence that has plagued Afghanistan for years is still some way off, but the positive signals given after this weekend’s talks have raised hopes of a breakthrough.

US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad had cited “excellent progress” in the weekend’s talks in Qatar, and said that technical discussions would continue.

The deal includes a phased US troop pullout in exchange for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used by extremist groups to attack American targets. –BBC

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