Several killed as blasts rock Afghanistan capital Kabul

Government official says at least 10 killed and 12 wounded in bomb attacks, with no claim of responsibility yet.

An Afghan National Army soldier stands guard at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 21, 2021 [File: Reuters]

Three bombs rattled the Afghan capital Kabul killing at least 10 people and plunging the city into darkness, an Afghan government spokesman has said.

Two bombs exploded in quick succession in separate locations of a west Kabul neighborhood late on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and wounding a dozen others, said deputy Interior Ministry spokesman Said Hamid Rushan.

A third bomb heavily damaged an electric grid station in north Kabul, said Sangar Niazai, a spokesman for the government power supply department.

The initial two bombings, both targeting minivans, happened in a mostly ethnic Hazara area of the capital, said Rushan.

The first exploded near the home of a prominent Hazara leader, Mohammad Mohaqiq, and in front of a Shia mosque. Most Hazaras are Shia Muslims. The second bomb also targeted a minivan but Rushan said details were still being collected.

Police cordoned off the two areas and investigators were sifting through the rubble.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings. The ISIL (ISIS) affiliate operating in Afghanistan has previously declared war on minority Shia Muslims, who make up roughly 20 percent of the majority Sunni Muslim nation of 36 million people.

The ISIL affiliate previously claimed responsibility for several attacks in May on Afghanistan’s power supply stations in Kabul and in several other provinces.

On May 8, a car bomb and two roadside bombs exploded outside the Syed-al-Shahada girls school, also in a predominantly Hazara neighborhood, killing nearly 90 people, many of them students. No one has claimed that attack but the US blamed ISIL.

US withdrawal

The attacks come as the United States wraps up its longest war by withdrawing the last of its 2,500-3,500 troops along with 7,000 allied NATO forces from Afghanistan. The last soldiers are scheduled to be gone by September 11 at the latest, generating fears of increased chaos in a country already deeply insecure.

Violence has escalated in Afghanistan even as the US struck a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020 under the previous Trump administration.

The agreement called for the last of the US and NATO troops to be out of the country by May 1, 2021. Instead, the withdrawal began on May 1 after US President Joe Biden announced in mid-April that the country was ending its “forever war”. At the time, he declared armed groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL had been sufficiently degraded and it was no longer necessary to keep thousands of troops deployed to Afghanistan.

Stalemated peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are set to resume in Qatar, said a member of the Afghan government negotiation team, Nader Nadery.

The two sides have been meeting off and on since September but progress has been slight.

“I do not see any sign yet of meaningful talks from the Taliban on key issues to end this senseless war,” said Nadery.

Source: News Agencies