Deadly Islamic State Mortar Attack Rattles Residential Area in Afghanistan

Mortars slammed into a residential area of the Afghan capital, killing eight people on Saturday, hours before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held what are likely his last meetings with the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators trying to hammer out a peace deal.

The attack in Kabul, which was blamed on Islamic State militants, also injured 31 people.

The assault came as peace talks were underway in Qatar, where Pompeo told Afghan government negotiators that the U.S. will “sit on the side and help where we can” in the negotiations with Taliban militants.

Two Taliban officials told The Associated Press that the two warring sides have found common ground on which to move forward with the stalled talks.

In Kabul, at least one of the 23 mortar shells fired from two cars hit inside the Iranian Embassy compound. No one was injured, but it damaged the main building, the Iranian Embassy said in a tweet.

Entitled Woman Assaults McDonald's Employees for Refusing Her Special Request, They Fight Back and She Ends Up Leaving in Handcuffs

At least 31 people were hurt elsewhere in the city, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry.

The local Islamic State affiliate issued a statement claiming the attack that targeted the so-called Green Zone in Kabul which houses foreign embassies, the presidential palace and Afghan military compounds.

In Qatar, Pompeo also met with the co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who signed a peace agreement with Washington in February ahead of the intra-Afghan talks.

A Taliban spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, tweeted that prisoner releases were discussed in the meeting.

Naeem said the insurgent group also repeated its demand that Taliban leaders be removed from the United Nations sanctions list.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed earlier Saturday issued a statement assailing the Afghan government for requesting the U.N. maintain sanctions on Taliban leaders.

There has been a sharp rise in violence in Afghanistan this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against the country’s beleaguered security forces since the start of peace talks in September.

The United States announced this week that it will accelerate its planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Washington said it would withdraw another estimated 2,500 troops before the middle of January, leaving about 2,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has held to its promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops.

Pentagon: Al-Qaida Could Regroup in Afghanistan in 2 Years Without US Troop Presence

The United States has been pressing in recent weeks for a reduction in violence, while the Afghan government has been demanding a ceasefire.

Do you support the decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan?

The Taliban has refused, saying a ceasefire will be part of negotiations.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the government’s High Council for Reconciliation, condemned Saturday’s attack on the capital, calling it a “cowardly” act. The council oversees the government’s negotiating team with the Taliban in Doha.

Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Kabul on Tuesday for the first time since he came to office, condemned the attack and warned “it is important to be vigilant against the spoilers who are working to undermine the peace efforts.”

Hours before the attack rattled Kabul, a bomb attached to a car killed one security guard and wounded three others in an eastern neighborhood of the capital, according to Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz.

[jwplayer gc4BYc2F]

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →


We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , ,
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City