♦ Blast hits near security complexes, diplomatic district
♦ 12 civilians and 2 members of Nato force killed; 42 injured
A Taliban suicide blast in the centre of Kabul killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 40 yesterday, destroying cars and shops in an area near the headquarters of Afghanistan’s Nato force and the US embassy, officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack even as the insurgents and US officials have been negotiating a deal on a US troop withdrawal in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.
“At least 10 civilians have been killed and 42 injured were taken to hospitals,” said Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry.
The Nato-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement a Romanian and a U.S. member of the force were killed in action in Kabul, but it did not provide any more details.
A senior Afghan interior ministry official said the two were killed in the suicide bomb attack and their vehicle was the main target.
Video footage and photographs posted on social media showed several cars and small shops torn apart by the blast at a checkpoint on a road near the Nato office and US embassy. Police cordoned off the area.
Witnesses said the suicide bomber blew himself up as many people were standing nearby or crossing the road.
There has been no let-up in violence in Afghanistan even though both the Taliban and US officials have reported progress in negotiations aimed at securing a deal on ending their war.
On Monday, a Taliban suicide truck bomber attacked a compound used by international organisations in Kabul, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 100.
The US top negotiator for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad said this week the two sides had drawn up a draft framework agreement under which US troops would leave five military bases in Afghanistan within 135 days of the signing of the pact.
There are some 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, deployed at various bases across the country. Despite ending their combat role in 2014, an estimated 20,000 US and Nato security forces remain in the war-ravaged country.
Khalilzad is expected to meet Afghan and Nato officials to explain the draft agreement, which must still be approved by US President Donald Trump before it can be signed.
In a separate incident, Taliban fighters said they detonated a car bomb near a security meeting in the eastern province of Loghar. Government officials said four civilians were killed.