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.