Blast, gunbattle at VP candidate’s office, one dead
The political offices of the Afghan president’s running mate were hit by a large explosion and stormed by an unknown number of attackers, Afghan officials said yesterday. The attack came on the first day of campaigning for presidential elections, scheduled for late September.
Nasrat Rahimi, the interior ministry spokesman, said the attack targeted the Green Trend party headquarters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, but denied reports that vice-presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh was wounded in the attack.
Ferdous Faramarz, the spokesman for Kabul’s police chief, said the explosion was likely a suicide car bomb and that the gunfight was still ongoing.
At least one person was killed and 13 wounded, according to Wahidullah Mayar, the health ministry spokesman.
The blast was large enough to be heard throughout the capital.
No one immediately claim responsibility for the attack in Kabul, but both Taliban insurgents and the Islamic State (IS) group are active in the capital and have carried out attacks in the past.
President Ashraf Ghani is seeking a second term on promises of ending the 18-year war but has been largely sidelined over the past year as the US has negotiated directly with the Taliban.
The Taliban, who effectively control around half the country, have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces.
Elsewhere, Taliban suicide bomber killed four police early Sunday in an attack on a police station in the eastern Ghazni province, according to Ahmad Khan Serat, a spokesman for the provincial police.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in recent months in a bid to end America’s longest war. The two sides appear to be closing in on an agreement in which the US would withdraw its forces in return for a pledge from the Taliban to keep the country from being used as a launch pad for global attacks.
The Taliban and IS are sharply divided over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining their attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces.
The Taliban and IS have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban are still the larger and more imposing force.