At least 12, in­clud­ing chil­dren, killed in Kabul car bomb blast

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Kabul, Afghanista­n - At least 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing three chil­dren, were killed when a mini­van packed with ex­plo­sives rammed into a ve­hi­cle car­ry­ing for­eign­ers dur­ing Kabul’s morn­ing rush hour on Wed­nes­day, of­fi­cials said.

Four for­eign na­tion­als were among those wounded in the at­tack that tar­geted a ve­hi­cle be­long­ing to a pri­vate Cana­dian se­cu­rity company, Gar­daWorld - in a crowded neigh­bour­hood which is near the In­te­rior Min­istry and north of Kabul air­port.

“As a re­sult of to­day’s at­tack in Kabul, 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing three chil­dren, were killed and 20 were wounded in­clud­ing four mem­bers of Gar­daWorld,” Marwa Amini, an In­te­rior Min­istry spokes­woman, said.

All those killed in the sui­cide at­tack were Afghan civil­ians, and the na­tion­al­i­ties of the for­eign­ers wounded were not con­firmed.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mas­soud An­darabi said that one of those killed was a 13 year old child head­ing to school.

“The en­e­mies of our peo­ple should know that our peo­ple are de­ter­mined for peace, noth­ing can stop them from achiev­ing peace,” he said.

A source at the In­te­rior Min­istry said the blast was det­o­nated by a sui­cide bomber in the ve­hi­cle.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity. Both the Tal­iban and the Is­lamic State group are ac­tive in the city, which is one of the dead­li­est places in the war-torn coun­try for civil­ians.

The blast came one day af­ter Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani an­nounced that Kabul would re­lease three high-rank­ing Tal­iban pris­on­ers in an ap­par­ent pris­oner swap with West­ern hostages who were kid­napped by the in­sur­gents in 2016.

The three Tal­iban pris­on­ers in­clude Anas Haqqani, who was seized in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Tal­iban

leader and head of the Haqqani net­work, a no­to­ri­ous Tal­iban af­fil­i­ate.

Ghani did not spec­ify the fate of the West­ern hostages - an Aus­tralian and an Amer­i­can, both pro­fes­sors at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity in Kabul - and it was not clear when or where they would be freed.

The two, Amer­i­can Kevin King and Aus­tralian Ti­mothy Weeks, were kid­napped in Au­gust 2016 from the heart of Kabul. They later ap­peared look­ing hag­gard in a Tal­iban hostage video, with the in­sur­gents go­ing on to say that King was in poor health.

Ghani noted in his speech that ‘their health has been de­te­ri­o­rat­ing while in the cus­tody of the ter­ror­ists’.

He also did not state when or where the Tal­iban pris­on­ers would be freed.

The Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid said on Wed­nes­day that he could not con­firm any­thing about the swap yet.

“When our cap­tives reach their des­ti­na­tion, the Amer­i­can Univer­sity pro­fes­sors will be re­leased,” he said.

Ghani said that he hoped the de­ci­sion would help ‘pave the way’ for the start of un­of­fi­cial di­rect talks be­tween his gov­ern­ment and the Tal­iban, who have long re­fused to ne­go­ti­ate with the ad­min­is­tra­tion in Kabul.

Di­rect talks

Over the past year the US and the Tal­iban had been hold­ing di­rect talks seek­ing a deal that would bring the in­sur­gents to the ta­ble for peace talks with Kabul, and al­low the US to be­gin with­draw­ing troops.

But Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump abruptly ended the ne­go­ti­a­tions in Septem­ber, cit­ing con­tin­ued Tal­iban vi­o­lence.

Most ex­perts agree that there is no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion in Afghanista­n, and that talks will have to restart again even­tu­ally.

Un­til then, how­ever, civil­ians con­tinue to pay a dis­pro­por­tion­ate price in the long-run­ning and bru­tal war.

Last month, the United Na­tions re­leased a re­port say­ing an ‘unpreceden­ted’ num­ber of civil­ians were killed or wounded in Afghanista­n from July to Septem­ber this year.

The fig­ures - 1,174 deaths and 3,139 in­jured from July 1 un­til Septem­ber 30 - rep­re­sent a 42 per cent in­crease over the same pe­riod last year.

The UN laid most of the blame at the feet of ‘anti-gov­ern­ment el­e­ments’ such as the Tal­iban, who have been car­ry­ing out an in­sur­gency in Afghanista­n for more than 18 years.

The en­e­mies of our peo­ple should know that our peo­ple are de­ter­mined for peace

(AFP)

A sol­dier stands next to the site of a sui­cide at­tack in Kabul on Wed­nes­day

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