Five dead in Taliban attack on Kabul as US envoy visits - International | NTV

Five dead in Taliban attack on Kabul as US envoy visits

Tuesday September 3, 2019

 

A massive explosion rocked central Kabul late Monday, killing at least five people in a Taliban-claimed attack near an international complex while the US special envoy leading talks with the insurgents visited the Afghan capital.

The blast took place in a residential area near Green Village, a large compound that houses aid agencies and international organisations, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

It came while Afghanistan's main TV station Tolo News aired an interview with the US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who was discussing a potential deal with the Islamist extremist Taliban that would see the US withdraw forces from five bases across Afghanistan.

Gunfire could be heard in the aftermath of the blast along with a secondary explosion when a nearby petrol station caught fire, sending plumes of smoke into the night sky.

"Five bodies and 50 wounded -- all civilians -- have so far been evacuated from the area," Rahimi said, noting the toll could rise.

Green Village is separate from the nearby Green Zone, a walled-off and heavily fortified part of Kabul that is home to several embassies including the US and British facilities.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujadid said a coordinated attack with a suicide bomber and gunmen was under way.

Khalilzad, who has spent about a year negotiating with the Taliban, told Tolo the draw-down from US bases would occur within about four months of a final deal being approved -- provided the Taliban stick to their commitments.

The prospective deal centres on US troop reductions in return for several security guarantees from the Taliban, as well as broader peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government and an eventual ceasefire.

"We have agreed that if the conditions proceed according to the agreement, we will leave within 135 days five bases in which we are present now," the Afghan-born US envoy said in Dari.

But even as negotiations for an accord between the US and the Taliban have entered what is widely considered to be the final stages, violence has surged across Afghanistan.

On Saturday, the Taliban attempted to seize Kunduz in the north, and on Sunday, they launched an operation in the city of Pul-e Khumri, the capital of neighbouring Baghlan province.