Afghan capital rocked with bombs, IS claims responsibility

Afghan capital rocked with bombs, IS claims responsibility
Afghan policemen keep watch near a site of explosions in Kabul, Afghanistan May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

KABUL: Gunmen set off at least three explosions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday and then battled security forces from buildings they occupied in the latest in a spate of violence to rock the city.
At least six people were wounded, said health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Majroh, adding the casualty toll was likely to rise once security forces were able to get a clearer picture of the attack.
As police cordoned off part of the city’s main commercial area, an official from a branch of Afghanistan International Bank reached by telephone said customers were sheltering in the bank premises as gunfire continued in the street outside.
“We can hear the gun shots and we are waiting inside the bank’s safe room until the clashes end,” he said.
Afghanistan’s Western-backed government is fighting an intensifying war with both the Taliban and the Islamic State that has turned much of Kabul into a high security zone of concrete blast walls and razor wire.
Despite repeated pledges by the government to tighten security, hundreds of people have been killed and injured in attacks in the city since the beginning of the year.
The initial blast on Wednesday hit a police station in western Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi district, at around midday, said police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai.
Minutes later, two back-to-back explosions went off in Shar-e-Naw, the city’s main business district, near the office of a travel agency that processes visa applications for India.
Najib Danish, spokesman for interior ministry, said police were battling an unknown number of gunmen in both Dasht-e-Barchi and Shar-e-Naw.
In both places, gunmen attempted to enter official buildings, prompting clashes with the security forces.
“A number of gunmen at both sites under attack are engaged with the security forces,” Danish said.
“At both sites the insurgents took positions in nearby buildings.”
A senior official at the Indian embassy confirmed that one blast took place outside a travel company’s office and many security guards were injured.
The Afghan capital has seen an increase in bombings and other attacks against the security forces and civilians since the Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive on April 25.
Fighting traditionally picks up in Afghanistan as warmer weather melts snow in mountain passes, allowing insurgents to move around more easily.
Wednesday’s attack comes just over a week after twin blasts in Kabul killed 26 people including nine journalists on April 30.
Meanwhile, Islamic State claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack on a police compound in the Afghan capital Kabul, the group’s Amaq news agency reported.
It said the attack occurred in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi district but gave no details on any casualties. – Reuters


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