Official says 16 dead, 119 hurt in Taliban attack in Kabul

Afghan men carry an injured girl into the hospital after a large explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, September 2, 2019. Afghan officials say a large explosion in Kabul has targeted the Green Village compound, home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The death toll from a Taliban suicide attack in the Afghan capital late Monday night, September 2, rose to 16 civilians, with another 119 people wounded, an official said, while angry residents climbed into the international compound that had been targeted and set part of it on fire.

Thick black smoke rose Tuesday morning, September 3, from the Green Village, home to several international organizations and guesthouses and a frequent target of attacks — to the peril of nearby local residents as well.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said some 400 foreigners had been rescued after the suicide bombing targeted the compound, which houses several international organizations and guesthouses. The blast occurred on the street outside the compound and destroyed a number of homes.

Five attackers were shot and killed by security forces after the blast caused by a tractor rigged with explosives, Rahimi said. The explosion hit the western wall of the compound.

The attack occurred just hours after a U.S. envoy briefed the Afghan government on an agreement "in principle" with the Taliban that would see 5,000 U.S. troops leave the country within five months.

The Green Village also was hit by a suicide car bomber in January, again as the U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, was visiting the capital to brief the Afghan government on his negotiations with the Taliban on ending America's longest war.

Hours before Monday's attack, Khalilzad showed a draft deal to the Afghan president after declaring that they are "at the threshold of an agreement" following the end of the ninth round of U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar. The agreement still needs President Donald Trump's approval.

Shaken Kabul residents question whether any agreement with the Taliban can be trusted, especially as foreign troops withdraw.

It was not immediately clear why the Taliban would continue to carry out such attacks when the militant group appears to be getting what it wants in a deal with the U.S. — a troop withdrawal. The group wants all of the some 20,000 U.S. and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) troops out of Afghanistan immediately, while the U.S. seeks a withdrawal in phases that would depend on the Taliban meeting certain conditions such as a reduction in violence.

Attacks have surged in recent months, including Taliban assaults on two provincial capitals over the weekend, as the group seeks to strengthen its negotiating position not only with the U.S. but with the Afghan government in the even more challenging intra-Afghan talks that are meant to follow a U.S.-Taliban deal on Afghanistan's future.

Some analysts also have warned that some factions of the Taliban might be expressing displeasure with the U.S. deal, though Taliban political leaders at the talks in Qatar have insisted that their tens of thousands of fighters would respect whatever agreement is reached. (AP)


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