7 re­ported dead, 8 hurt af­ter suicide blast, bat­tle in Kabul

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD -

KABUL, Afghanista­n — A suicide blast rocked Afghanista­n’s capital Satur­day dur­ing a gun­bat­tle with se­cu­rity forces, of­fi­cials said, killing at least seven peo­ple a day af­ter hopes for all-en­com­pass­ing peace talks col­lapsed.

Po­lice chief Gen. Sayed Mo­ham­mad Roshandil said the bomber blew him­self up out­side the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­istry, clear­ing the way for four gun­men to en­ter the build­ing and the heav­ily guarded gov­ern­ment com­pound in cen­tral Kabul.

Nasart Rahimi, a spokesman for the In­te­rior Min­istry, said four civil­ians and three sol­diers were killed dur­ing the at­tack. Eight civil­ians were wounded, he said.

Wahidul­lah Ma­yar, spokesman for the Pub­lic Health Min­istry, said the wounded peo­ple were evac­u­ated to hos­pi­tals.

No group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack. Both Tal­iban in­sur­gents and the Is­lamic State group are ac­tive in eastern Afghanista­n and have pre­vi­ously claimed at­tacks in Kabul.

The Tal­iban de­nied in­volve­ment.

Rahimi said the se­cu­rity operation ended at the Min­istry of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion “af­ter all four at­tack­ers were shot and killed by Afghan se­cu­rity forces.”

The at­tack came a day af­ter Afghan-to-Afghan peace talks in Qatar were can­celed. It would have marked the first time that Tal­iban and Kabul gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials sat to­gether to ne­go­ti­ate an end to the war in Afghanista­n and a with­drawal of U.S. troops.

Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani con­demned the at­tack, say­ing the en­e­mies of Afghanista­n, by tar­get­ing civil ser­vants, are try­ing to cre­ate ter­ror among the peo­ple.

Rahimi said as many as 2,700 gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and civil­ians were res­cued by se­cu­rity forces af­ter be­ing stuck in sev­eral gov­ern­ment build­ings in­clud­ing the cen­tral post of­fice. In Los Angeles: A man sus­pected of in­volve­ment in a mys­te­ri­ous dissident group’s Feb­ru­ary raid on North Korea’s Em­bassy in Madrid was ar­rested by U.S. au­thor­i­ties.

Christo­pher Ahn, a for­mer U.S. Ma­rine, was ar­rested and charged Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to a per­son familiar with the mat­ter who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. The specific charges against Ahn were not clear.

Sep­a­rately, on Thurs­day, fed­eral agents raided the apart­ment of Adrian Hong, a leader of the Free Joseon group. Hong was not ar­rested.

Free Joseon, also known as the Che­ol­lima Civil De­fense group, styles it­self as a gov­ern­ment-in­ex­ile ded­i­cated to top­pling the rul­ing Kim fam­ily dy­nasty in North Korea.

RAHMAT GUL/AP

Afghan se­cu­rity per­son­nel res­cue men and chil­dren Satur­day af­ter an at­tack out­side the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions min­istry in Kabul, the capital. At least eight civil­ians were wounded.

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