Taliban claims deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

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KABUL: A car bomb explosion claimed by the Taliban in Kabul on Saturday killed at least two civilians, as the militants maintain pressure on the capital amid growing calls for peace talks.

Several others were wounded in the morning rush-hour suicide blast in an industrial area of the city that the Afghan interior ministry said had intended to strike global security company G4S.

It was the fourth suicide attack in Kabul in three weeks and comes days after the top US general in Afghanistan said protecting the war-weary city was “our main effort”.

It also comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to take up Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer last month of peace talks to end the 16-year war.

“Around 9:10 am this morning a suicide car bomb exploded in Police District Nine of Kabul,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.

Two civilians were killed and three others were wounded in the attack, Danish said. The blast happened at a time when many people would have been driving to their offices on the first day of Afghanistan’s working week.

Health ministry spokesman Wahid Majrooh told AFP at least four people had been wounded in the explosion.

Deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the suicide bomber had been driving towards G4S but “detonated himself before reaching the target”.

In a WhatsApp message sent to journalists Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the bomber had targeted a convoy of “foreign troops”.

“All occupiers were killed,” Mujahid said.

The Taliban routinely exaggerates the number of people killed in its attacks, while Afghan officials tend to understate the casualty toll.

The attack comes weeks before the start of the spring fighting season which is expected to be more intense this year as militants respond to intensifying US and Afghan air strikes and ground offensives.—AFP