14 dead in Taliban attack on Kabul police center

The attack comes ahead of next month’s crucial presidential polls. (Reuters)
Updated 08 August 2019

14 dead in Taliban attack on Kabul police center

  • At least 95 people, mostly civilians and including women and children, had been taken to hospital
  • The bomb went off when a vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint outside the station

KABUL: At least 14 people were killed and 145 wounded in a Taliban car bomb attack on a police recruitment center on Wednesday in Kabul, officials said.

The attack, the latest in a spate of rising violence in the capital and across Afghanistan, comes ahead of next month’s crucial presidential polls, which the militants have threatened to derail.

On Tuesday, the Taliban and US diplomats announced that they had made “excellent progress” in peace talks in Qatar. The impact of the blast, which was felt in remote parts of the capital, destroyed over 20 rooms inside the center and damaged nearby buildings.

“I feel like I’m deaf now. It happened just a kilometer from me, but the sound was powerful and I felt as if it was only meters away,” said Ashna Gul, a resident.

Khoshal Sadaat, senior deputy interior minister, told a press conference that 14 people lost their lives in the blast and 145 people — 92 of them civilians — were wounded.

He said the Taliban had increased its attacks in cities and civilian areas as part of a move to “provoke the public against the system” following its recent setbacks across the country.

A spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, Wahiddullah Mayar, said women and children were among the wounded.

The Taliban said a suicide bomber detonated a truck outside the center, which has faced similar attacks in recent years.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban had stepped up its raids in order to seek concessions in the peace negotiations, which his government is barred from because of the group’s objection.

“By repeating such tragedies and humanitarian crimes, not only will they (the Taliban) not gain any concessions during the peace talks, but they will also be severely suppressed in all corners of the country by our valorous defense and security forces,” Ghani said.

Sediq Seddiqi, a spokesman for Ghani, said the increase in Taliban attacks showed that the group was “the main hurdle for peace” in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the government said it conducted overnight operations against suspected Daesh affiliates in three parts of Kabul. Two of the suspects and three government officers were killed.

The operations were aimed at houses where the network kept explosives and produced vests for suicide attacks. Several loud explosions were heard during the operations.

S.Korea official says US-N.Korea dialogue seen starting soon

Updated 22 August 2019

S.Korea official says US-N.Korea dialogue seen starting soon

  • South Korea will hold a meeting with Japan to discuss intelligence-sharing pact
  • The agreement will expire on August 24

SEOUL: The United States and North Korea are expected to reopen denuclearization talks soon and it would “go well,” a senior South Korean official said on Thursday, boosting hopes for progress in negotiations after a prolonged stalemate.
South Korea’s deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong gave his upbeat assessment after meeting with US envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Seoul.
“My impression was that North Korea and the United States would carry out dialogue soon, and it would go well,” Kim told reporters after the one-hour meeting, without elaborating.
Working-level talks between the United States and North Korea have yet to restart since they were stalled by the failed second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.
Trump and Kim met again in June at the inter-Korean border and agreed to reopen negotiations.
The South Korean official also said that South Korea’s presidential National Security Council will convene later on Thursday to review an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, that Seoul had threatened to scrap amid a spiralling diplomatic and trade spat.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) could expire on Saturday if either side decides not to roll it over.
According to Kim, the South Korean official, Biegun raised the issue, which has worried Washington as the accord is instrumental in three-way efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
“I’ve told him we’ll carefully examine it and make a decision in a way that serves our national interest,” the South Korean deputy national security adviser said.