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Series of rockets hits Afghanistan capital, killing one, wounding two

KABUL: Onlookers watch a municipal worker clean and remove debris along a street after multiple rockets were fired in the Afghan capital Kabul yesterday. – AFP

KABUL: A series of rockets struck Kabul yesterday, killing one person and wounding two, officials said, the second such attack to rock the Afghan capital in less than a month. Violence has surged across Afghanistan in recent months, with several deadly attacks carried out in Kabul, despite the Taleban and the government engaging in peace talks since September 12 in Qatar. “This morning, 10 rockets were fired from the Labe Jar neighborhood of Kabul,” interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters.

He said three rockets landed near Kabul airport and seven in residential areas, leaving one civilian dead and two wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far and the Taleban denied any involvement. The barrage of rockets yesterday was the second such attack in less than a month in Kabul. On November 21, eight people were killed and 31 were wounded when 23 rockets hit the capital in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. IS has also claimed two brutal attacks on educational centers in the capital that killed mostly students, including one on Kabul University during which gunmen sprayed classrooms with bullets.

Authorities blamed the attacks on educational centers on the Haqqani network, an affiliate of the Taleban. Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on his Facebook page on Saturday that he had received a warning from IS that it would “transform Kabul into a slaughterhouse for Shiites” if any of the jihadist group’s militants arrested by government forces were executed.

In recent months, Saleh and his aides have pushed for public trials of “terrorists” arrested in connection with deadly attacks and for those found guilty to be hanged publicly. IS has regularly claimed attacks targeting the minority Shiite Hazara community in Afghanistan. Yesterday, in a separate statement, the interior ministry said attacks such as yesterday’s were aimed at “soft targets”. “The enemies of the people of Afghanistan have intensified the violence,” it said.

“But they have failed to capture districts and they have lost in the battlefields, so they have resorted to hitting at soft targets,” it said. Violence has surged amid an ongoing withdrawal of US troops as President Donald Trump pushes to end America’s longest war. In November, the Pentagon said it would pull 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline established in a February agreement between Washington and the Taleban that envisions a full withdrawal by May 2021. That deal also stipulates that the Taleban will not target key cities in the country, although Afghan authorities have blamed them for such attacks. – AFP

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