Taliban claims blast kill at least 14, wound 145 in Kabul

Taliban claims blast kill at least 14, wound 145 in Kabul

KABUL: At least 14 people were killed and 145 wounded in a massive Taliban bomb blast Wednesday as fresh violence gripped Kabul even as insurgents appear to be closing in on a peace deal with the US.
The bloodshed in the capital comes amid an ongoing surge in attacks across Afghanistan, where some 1,500 people were killed or injured last month alone.
A huge plume of black smoke was seen rising over western Kabul following a massive explosion at the entrance to a police compound around 9AM (0430 GMT).
The Afghan interior ministry said the explosion was caused by a car bomb but the Taliban — which claimed the attack — said it was a much larger truck bomb. An Afghan security official also told foreign news agency it was a truck bomb.
Images on social media showed toppled blast walls surrounding several largely destroyed buildings in a compound.
Afghan authorities said at least 10 civilians and four police officers had been killed. Another 145 people, including 92 civilians, were wounded.
“As the air cleared, I saw several women crying, desperately looking for their husbands or children near the blast site,” local journalist Zakeria Hasani, who lives near the police station, told foreign news agency.
Shopkeeper Ahmad Saleh said his store windows had blown out, sending glass flying.
“My head is spinning and still I don’t know what has happened but the windows of about 20 shops around one kilometre from the blast site are broken,” he said.
The US and the Taliban met in Doha this week for the eighth round of talks aimed at striking a peace deal that would slash the American military presence in Afghanistan.
Despite the bloodshed sweeping the nation, both sides have cited “excellent progress”.
The attack came after the Taliban warned Afghans on Tuesday to keep away from public gatherings ahead of the presidential election planned for September 28.
The Taliban ordered their fighters to “stand against” the polls, and previous elections have been rocked by frequent attacks by militants trying to undermine Afghanistan’s fragile democracy.
More than 1,500 civilians were killed or wounded in the Afghan conflict in July, according to the United Nations, the highest monthly toll so far this year and the worst single month since May 2017. …Agencies

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