Taliban car bomb blast kills four Afghan special forces in Kabul

Afghan National Army (ANA) solders inspect the site of a suicide car bomb attack near a base of elite Afghan special forces in Char Asiab district, south of the capital Kabul on September 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Taliban car bomb blast kills four Afghan special forces in Kabul

  • The bomber blew up an explosives-laden minibus at the entrance to the camp in Chahar Asyab district

KABUL: A suicide bomber targeted an Afghan Special Forces base in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least four commandos, officials said, as violence continued to escalate following the collapse of peace talks between the United States and Taliban insurgents.
The bomber blew up an explosives-laden minibus at the entrance to the camp in Chahar Asyab district, killing the four special forces members and wounding another three, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, which he said killed more than 200 commandos. The insurgents routinely issue exaggerated casualty claims.
Mujahid said the bomber had been infiltrated into the base well before the attack.
The latest attack underscored expectations of an escalation in violence following US President Donald Trump’s sudden cancelation of the talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan.
In Washington, Trump’s nominee to be the secretary of the US Army said walking away from the talks was the correct decision.
“I think that it was the right decision to step back from the table and try to look at how do you get to a framework to bring a political end state to the conflict,” Ryan McCarthy told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
McCarthy said that he believed that the United States would continue to need not only a counterterrorism capability, but also the ability to advise and assist Afghan security forces.
“We can’t take our eye of the ball there until a time where there is a much greater maturity in the strength within the Afghan government,” McCarthy added.
Last week, a Taliban suicide blast killed at least 10 civilians and two NATO service members near the US embassy in Kabul.


UK PM Johnson says groups of 6 people can meet outside from Monday

Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

UK PM Johnson says groups of 6 people can meet outside from Monday

  • The prime minister also confirmed that schools will start reopening from Monday, initially for some younger students
  • Outdoor-based shops, such as car showrooms, can also reopen

LONDON: Outdoor gatherings of six people from different households will be allowed from next week as part of another easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.
But the government's chief scientific adviser cautioned that Britain was at a “fragile" point in its fight against the virus, with some 2,000 new infections still being reported each day.
Johnson, who has faced days of scorn for keeping his top aide Dominic Cummings in post following his controversial travels during the lockdown, said families and friends in groups of up to six can meet from Monday in outdoor spaces, including public parks and private gardens.
Johnson said at a news conference that this was potentially a “long awaited and joyful moment” for parents and grandparents but stressed that people must remain 2 meters (6.5 feet) apart.
The prime minister also confirmed that schools will start reopening from Monday, initially for some younger students. Outdoor-based shops, such as car showrooms, can also reopen.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also easing lockdowns, in slightly different ways.
Johnson said the “limited and cautious” changes were possible because five government-imposed tests have been met. These include “sustained and consistent” falls in virus infections and the daily death rate.
Though the number of people dying after testing positive for COVID-19 has fallen since the peak in early April. The UK still recorded another 377 deaths in all settings including hospitals and care homes, taking the total to 37,837.
“This is not a time to say ‘Everything’s OK, we’re relaxing measures, everything’s going to be rosy," said the government's chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance. "We are at a fragile state.”
Johnson continued to brush aside questions about Cummings, and said that the issue was now closed after police will not take any action on the matter
Johnson has been urged to sack Cummings by political opponents as well as a number of his own Conservative lawmakers after his adviser drove 250 miles (400 km) to his parents’ house in Durham, northeast England, at the end of March while the country was under a “stay-at-home” order. Cummings made a later journey to a scenic town 30 miles (50 km) away.
Following an investigation, Durham Constabulary said the drive to Durham did not breach the rules but the second trip, to the town of Barnard Castle, might have been “a minor breach” of lockdown rules “that would have warranted police intervention." But the force said “there is no intention to take retrospective action" because no one else has been fined retrospectively.