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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Several blasts reported as rockets hit Afghan capital Kabul

Explosions came two days after suicide bomb killed at least 14 people near the capital's airport

A security personnel looks back as he arrives at the site of a would-be suicide attack near a park, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 16, 2018. AP
A security personnel looks back as he arrives at the site of a would-be suicide attack near a park, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 16, 2018. AP

Several explosions hit the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday, with two confirmed to have been caused by rockets that struck a residential area wounding at least four people, officials said.

The cause and exact location of a third blast were not immediately clear and there was no claim of responsibility.

"Based on initial reports, a rocket hit a residential house in Kabul PD5 [police district], injuring three civilians," police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai told AFP.

The blasts came two days after a suicide bomber killed at least 14 people near Kabul airport, an attack claimed by ISIS.

The militant group said it had targeted Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who returned to Kabul after more than a year in exile.

Scores of government officials, political leaders and supporters had gone to the airport to welcome home Mr Dostum, a powerful ethnic Uzbek leader and former warlord.

Mr Dostum was unharmed in the attack, his armoured vehicle having already whisked him away when the bomber struck.

Ordinary Afghans have borne the brunt of the grinding 17-year war that has turned Kabul into one of the most dangerous places in the country for civilians.

Despite growing speculation about peace talks with Taliban militants, security officials have warned that violence is likely to increase ahead of parliamentary elections due in October.

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Meanwhile, an Afghan official said 12 insurgents, including a Taliban shadow governor and district chief, were killed in a military operation by Afghan commando units in north-eastern Kapisa province.

Sharin Aqa Faqiri, spokesman for the army in north-eastern Afghanistan, said on Tuesday that Mullah Nasim Mushfaq, Taliban shadow governor for Kapisa, and Qari Esanullah, the shadow district chief for Tagab, were among those killed in the operation late on Sunday night.

Mr Faqiri said the senior Taliban leaders were in a meeting when they came under attack by ground forces supported by aircraft over Tagab district.

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, confirmed the attack in a statement, saying a number of Taliban including the shadow governor and shadow district chief were killed in the attack.

Militant attacks and suicide bombs were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of this year, a recent UN report showed.

The total number of civilians killed was 1,692, the highest number for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began keeping records in 2009.

Another 3,430 people were wounded, the report said.

Suicide bombs and "complex" attacks that involve several militants accounted for 1,413 casualties – 427 deaths and 986 injuries – up 22 per cent from a year earlier.

If that trend continues, the figure will top the 2017 full-year record of nearly 2,300 casualties.

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