Deadly rocket attack rattles Afghan capital

Deadly rocket attack rattles Afghan capital
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Officials in Afghanistan say some two dozen mortar shells hit central Kabul on Saturday morning, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 more.

Authorities in Afghanistan say around two dozen mortar shells hit central Kabul on Saturday morning, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 more.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the rockets were fired from the rear of two vehicles and crashed into different parts of the capital.

A spokesman for the Taliban insurgent group was quick to deny its involvement in the deadly attack, raising suspicions that the Islamic State could be behind it.

The terrorist team had claimed responsibility for a similar rocket attack in March that targeted the presidential inauguration in Kabul.

The violence occurred just hours before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately with Taliban and Afghan government negotiators in Doha, the Qatari capital.

Afghan rivals have been involved in a US-mediated peace dialogue since early September, but the process is stalled by disputes over the framework.

Pompeo is on a tour of seven countries in Europe and the Middle East. The State Department said on Friday that the top US diplomat will also see Qatari leaders on his stopover in Doha, where the Taliban hold political office.

Acting US Ambassador to Kabul Ross Wilson condemned the rocket attack.

“Afghans shouldn’t have to live in terror. My condolences to the victims and the families of the dead and injured. … The United States will continue to work with our Afghan partners to prevent such attacks and hold their perpetrators to account, ”Wilson tweeted.

Saturday’s rocket bombardment of Kabul comes amid a recent surge on the battlefield between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents, which killed dozens of fighters on both sides and civilians in November alone.

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