Sunday, 19 November 2017

Suicide bomber kills four near US embassy in Kabul

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up on a busy shopping street near the US embassy in central Kabul, Afghanistan Tuesday, killing four people and injuring several others, officials said.

It was the latest in a series of deadly attacks to hit the Afghan capital, and comes three months after a massive truck bomb ripped through the same area, killing about 150 people.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry, told AFP the explosion happened outside a private bank.

The blast happened Tuesday morning at a time when many officials were expected to be collecting their salaries ahead of this week’s Eid holiday.

Kabul Bank, the private institution hit by the blast, usually pays the salaries of security forces personnel and government employees.

Images broadcast on Afghan television showed the bank’s mangled exterior.

Waheed Majroh, a health ministry spokesman, said one dead body and eight wounded people had been brought to Kabul hospitals so far.

The blast occurred on a street lined with shops and banks leading to Massoud Square, near the United States embassy and Kabul’s diplomatic area.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban insurgents are currently at the peak of their summer fighting season, and have launched several deadly assaults around the country in recent weeks.

Since NATO forces ended their more than a decade-long combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, Afghan troops and police have struggled to beat back the resurgent Taliban, while facing the growing menace of the Islamic State group.

– Deadly assaults –

 It was the latest explosion to rock the war-weary Afghan capital, and comes a week after United States President Donald Trump committed American soldiers to Afghanistan indefinitely.

On May 3, a powerful blast targeting a foreign forces convoy near the US embassy and NATO headquarters killed at least eight people and wounded 28 during morning rush hour.

Later in the month a massive truck bomb tore through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, home to the presidential palace and a host of foreign embassies, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians.

And on June 3 seven people were killed after suicide bombers attacked the funeral of a protester who was killed the day before during a demonstration against insecurity in Kabul.

After Trump paved the way for more US forces to be sent to Afghanistan the Taliban, which ruled the war-torn country from 1996-2001, vowed to turn it into a “graveyard” for foreign forces.

Afghan authorities welcomed Trump’s decision, while in neighbouring Pakistan officials batted away claims from the US president that Islamabad continued to harbour militant sanctuaries.

Earlier this week Pakistan postponed a visit by a US diplomat who had been due to arrive Monday. The delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Alice Wells was set to be the first major visit by an American official since Trump’s comments.

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