Taliban claim Kabul truck bombing, warn more to follow
KABUL -- The Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday (January 15) for a powerful truck bomb in Kabul that ripped through surrounding neighbourhoods, killing at least four people and wounding more than 100.
In a grim message, the militants vowed to carry out more attacks in the city in direct response to the recent appointment of a former Afghan intelligence chief and anti-Taliban voice, Amrullah Saleh, as interior minister, according to AFP.
The explosion, which occurred Monday evening (January 14) near the heavily fortified Green Village, shook Kabul and comes as diplomats ramp up efforts to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.
The force of the blast was felt across the city, initially causing confusion about its exact location. It shattered the windows of surrounding houses and shops.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told journalists via WhatsApp that four attackers blew up an explosives-packed truck before entering the Green Village and "killing many" foreigners.
Four people have been confirmed dead and 113 wounded, the Health Ministry confirmed.
Most of the victims were local civilians.
"Seven or eight people have been injured in every house around here, including myself," said Mohammad Aref, a Kabul resident. "When I came out, the street was full of bodies of the dead and injured."
Authorities were still investigating whether any foreigners were among the casualties, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.
Some United Nations (UN) staff had until recently lived and worked at Green Village, which is heavily protected by cement blast walls.
But the compound was now largely empty, Danish said, and "only a number of guards" were left.
Monday's incident was the second Taliban-claimed attack on a foreign compound in Kabul in recent months.
In late November, a vehicle bomb exploded outside the compound of British security firm G4S, killing at least 10 people, including five employees of the firm.
That was followed by a suicide and gun attack on a government compound in Kabul on December 24, which took at least 43 lives, making it one of the deadliest assaults on the city last year.
The latest bombing comes as US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad visits the region for further meetings aimed at bringing an end to the Afghan conflict.
Khalilzad, who met with the Taliban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, is travelling to Afghanistan as well as to China, India and Pakistan on the trip lasting through January 21.
Afghan officials suggested the latest bombing appeared to be an attempt to derail the burgeoning peace process, vowing that it would not go unanswered.
"As we are trying to reach a regional consensus on peace, the enemy is trying to sabotage it," Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said on social media.
"I strongly condemn this attack and promise I will seriously investigate and avenge it," he said.
Diplomats in Kabul have long said any negotiations with the militants would likely happen as fighting continued on the battlefield, a cold comfort for Afghan civilians who have long borne the brunt of the war.