Islamic State claims responsibility for two blasts

KABUL: Three bombs rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul yesterday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 45, officials said, as the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff was meeting top US and NATO officials in the city. A suicide bomber blew himself near a minibus carrying employees of the ministry and mines and petroleum, killing five women and a child. Video footage shared with reporters by security officials showed the bodies of the women and a child lying on the road in the eastern part of city as bystanders tried to help the wounded.


Health officials said at least 20 people were taken to hospital by civilians, some on wheelbarrows. A second bomb exploded on a road parallel to the site of the bus attack, killing five people and injuring police who were trying to manage the traffic after the first blast. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the two attacks. The third blast, about three km away, wounded at least 17 civilians. The Taleban claimed responsibility.


The Taleban, fighting to restore strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster at the hands of U.S.-led troops, said their fighters had used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device to kill nine foreign forces and destroy two vehicles. On Wednesday, a Croatian soldier serving in Afghanistan was killed and two were seriously wounded in a suicide attack on their convoy outside Kabul, Afghan interior ministry officials said the Taleban have killed or wounded more than 1,000 civilians since April, including more than 150 children.


The attacks came as US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Marine General Joseph Dunford met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who is leading talks with militants to end the 18-year-long war. The United States is trying to negotiate a deal that would see foreign forces pull out of Afghanistan in return for security guarantees by the Taleban, including a pledge that the country will not become a safe haven for terror groups.


About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of the US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some US forces carry out counter-terrorism operations. Col Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan, said the Taleban, despite offering assurances during peace negotiations, continue to target innocent civilians. Afghan security experts said the insurgents were increasing attacks to gain greater leverage in the peace talks. The eighth round is expected to begin this month in Qatar.


The Taleban also clashed with Afghan forces in northern province of Takhar to secure control over checkpoints and capture several districts. Both sides said that they have inflicted heavy damage on their opponents. In the eastern province of Nangarhar, a roadside bomb hit a wedding party on Thursday. Six women and three children were killed in the blast in Khogyani district, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement. No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.- Reuters