Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Taliban kill at least 10 people in Kabul attack

Afghan government calls for risk assessment of draft US-Taliban peace deal

Afghan security forces secure the scene after a suicide bombing in Kabul on September 5, 2019. EPA
Afghan security forces secure the scene after a suicide bombing in Kabul on September 5, 2019. EPA

The Taliban claimed a bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday that killed at least 10 people, including two Nato troops, and wounded 42.

The latest Taliban strike came as the US and the militant group closed in on a deal that will lead to American soldiers withdrawing from the country.

The explosion hit a fortified area near the Green Zone in central Kabul, which is home to the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence service, and several embassies including that of the US.

"Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless," Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said.

Resolute Support, the US-led Nato mission in Afghanistan, said Romanian and American service members were killed in the explosion.

A source at the the intelligence service shared footage of the attack with The National. It showed a personnel carrier turning off the road and driving into a side entrance before blowing up.

"We all saw on security camera who were targeted," presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi tweeted.

Civilians were again the main victims and US ambassador John Bass in his condemned the attack.

The attack, at about 10.10am, was also close to where an ISIS blast killed nine journalists in April last year.

The Taliban said that they were aiming at vehicles of "foreigners" as they tried to enter the heavily guarded Shashdarak area.

The Nato mission is near by, and British soldiers were at the scene, retrieving what appeared to be the remains of a vehicle belonging to the defence alliance.

Neither the Nato mission nor the British High Commission commented on the attack.

On Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a suicide bomber triggered the explosion.

On Monday, at least 16 people were killed in a Taliban attack on a residential area in eastern Kabul.

The US and Taliban have reached an agreement "in principle" that would see the Pentagon pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for Taliban security promises.

But there is increasing unease about the deal, with Afghans fearing it will return the Taliban to power, and a growing chorus of US legislators and officials against the agreement.

Under the parts of the deal made public so far, the Pentagon would withdraw about 5,000 of its 13,000 troops from five bases across Afghanistan by early next year, provided the Taliban stick to their security pledges.

The insurgents say they will renounce Al Qaeda, fight ISIS and stop militants using Afghanistan as a safe haven.

The US negotiator for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is expected to meet Afghan and Nato officials to explain the draft agreement, which must still be approved by US President Donald Trump before it can be signed.

The deal is meant to be followed quickly by Taliban talks with the Afghan government, which the US would like to start before Afghanistan's presidential election on September 28.

Mr Khalilzad has shared details of the draft with Mr Ghani and sought his opinion before firming up an agreement that could bring an end to America’s longest military intervention overseas.

On Wednesday, the Afghan government expressed doubts about the deal, saying officials need more information about the risks it poses.

Updated: September 6, 2019 02:32 AM

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