Kabul rocket attack: Death toll climbs to 8, 31 injured

The death toll in a rocket attack that pounded the Afghan capital early Saturday rose to eight, officials confirmed, marking the latest assault in an ongoing wave of violence sweeping Kabul.

“The terrorists fired 23 rockets on the city of Kabul. Based on the initial information, eight people were martyred, and 31 others were wounded,” said interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, who blamed the Taliban for the attack. A police source also confirmed the toll.

A series of loud explosions shook central Kabul on Saturday, AFP correspondents heard, including several in quick succession that sounded like rockets being fired.

The explosions occurred in densely populated parts of the Afghan capital including near the centrally located Green Zone and at a neighbourhood in the north.

Alarms could be heard blaring at embassies and businesses in and around the Green Zone, a massive, heavily fortified quarter that houses dozens of international companies and their workers.

Unverified photos circulating on social media showed what appeared to be holes from rockets punched into at least two separate buildings.

Officials did not immediately comment but the interior ministry said two small “sticky bomb” explosions had been reported earlier Saturday morning, including one that hit a police car, killing one policeman and wounding three others.

The explosions come ahead of a meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government in the Gulf state of Qatar.

There is an ongoing wave of violence that has wrought carnage across Afghanistan in recent months. No group immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blasts.

The Taliban have pledged not to attack urban areas under the terms of a US withdrawal deal, but the Kabul administration has blamed the insurgents or their proxies for other recent attacks in Kabul.

Taliban and Afghan government negotiators launched peace talks in September, but progress has been slow.

Officials told AFP on Friday however that a breakthrough was expected to be announced in the coming days.

In the past six months, the Taliban carried out 53 suicide attacks and 1,250 explosions that left 1,210 civilians dead and 2,500 wounded, interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said this week.

(With inputs from agency)