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One Killed, More Than 100 Hurt As Powerful Blast Rocks Kabul


Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an explosion in Kabul on July 1.

KABUL -- At least one person has been killed and more than 100 wounded after a powerful car bomb rocked the Afghan capital, followed by a battle between gunmen and security forces, officials say.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the July 1 attack, which comes two days after negotiators from the militant group and the United States started a new round of talks in Qatar to try to put an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan -- the longest war in U.S. history.

The blast occurred in Kabul's Puli Mahmood Khan neighborhood during rush hour and shook buildings up to 2 kilometers away, reports said.

Gunshots could be heard after the explosion as helicopter gunships flew over the area and ambulances rushed to the scene.

Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar told RFE/RL that one person died and 105 other people were wounded in the violence, including 26 children and five women.

However, Education Ministry spokeswoman Nooria Nazhat was quoted as saying that 51 children in two schools near the blast site were hurt by flying glass.

Wounded people receive treatment in a hospital after the blast in Kabul on July 1.
Wounded people receive treatment in a hospital after the blast in Kabul on July 1.

A police official, Mohammad Karim, said that a car bomb exploded outside a Defense Ministry building, before militants ran into a nearby building and began firing down on the ministry.

"The area is cordoned off by the police special forces and [they] are bringing down the attackers," Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

Hours later, the ministry announced that all five attackers had been killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack targeted a Defense Ministry "logistics and engineering center."

The neighborhood is home to several military and government buildings, as well as the headquarters of the Afghan Football Federation.

Speaking from a hospital where he was being treated for light injuries, the federation's acting head, Yousuf Kargar, told RFE/RL: "We were at a meeting. Some of our staff were wounded. I was wounded too. Now, I feel better, by the grace of God."

Afghanistan's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, tweeted that the "terrorist" attack near the Afghan Football Federation building showed the "inherent criminal nature" of the group.

Abdullah said the country's "heroic" security forces will continue to "pursue & punish" Taliban militants, whom he called "miscreants."

"We strongly condemn the Taliban's latest brutal attack against fellow [Afghans]," the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry also condemned the "terrorist attack" in Kabul, saying that such assaults were "detrimental to the cause of peace, security, and stability in Afghanistan."

Afghan security forces arrive at the scene of the explosion in Kabul on July 1.
Afghan security forces arrive at the scene of the explosion in Kabul on July 1.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) extremist group operate in Kabul, which has been relatively quiet in recent months following a spate of violent explosions, many claimed by the IS affiliate that operates in Afghanistan.

The latest attack in the city came as the seventh round of talks between Taliban negotiators and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, moved into a third day in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The negotiations were expected to focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee that militants will not plot attacks from Afghan soil.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Doha, told AP on July 1, "Our main concern is to make sure a timeline for troop pullout is announced."

The Taliban, driven from power by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, controls large swaths of Afghanistan's territory.

The group has so far refused to talk directly to the Afghan government in Kabul, calling it a puppet of the West, and has continued to carry out nearly daily attacks across Afghanistan.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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