KABUL: Scores of Afghans were wounded in an attack by Taliban insurgents on a security facility in Kabul on Monday.
The powerful bomb in downtown Kabul killed at least six people and wounded more than a hundred, sending a cloud of smoke billowing over the Afghan capital.
At least 26 children were among the wounded, many of whom were cut by shards of glass when the bomb shattered nearby windows, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said as quoted by The Associated Press. He said a total of 105 people were hurt.
The attack comes as talks between Taliban delegates and US diplomats enter a third day in Qatar, and follows weeks of air and ground offensives against the militants in various parts of the country.
The explosion carried out by a suicide bomber occurred outside a compound belonging to the Afghan Defense Ministry, less than a mile from the presidential palace.
A group of militants, consisting of suicide bombers and others armed with rocket propelled grenades, then entered the facility, sparking a gunbattle with police and security forces. Explosions could be heard as helicopters hovered above the area.
Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, said 100 people, nine of them children, were hurt in the blast and subsequent clash. One person was confirmed dead.
“It (the explosion) was very powerful and was heard throughout the city,” Ahmad Shah, a resident living nearby, told Arab News.
“This clearly shows an intelligence failure,” said Mohammad Gul Mujahid, a security analyst.
The country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said the attack showcased the Taliban’s “inherent criminal nature.” He added the government would not be deterred “to pursue and punish the miscreants.” The incident coincides with the seventh round of talks between Taliban representatives and US officials in Doha.
Both the Taliban and Afghan forces, backed by US troops, have intensified fighting in recent months as part of an effort to gain an advantage in the negotiations.
The Taliban staged four suicide attacks on government buildings in southern Kandahar on Sunday, killing dozens of security forces and eight civilians.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Kabul condemned the Taliban’s latest “brutal attacks against fellow Afghans.”