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.

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.