At least eight civilians were killed in the brazen attack and dozens were injured because the Taliban denied involvement.
The rocket attack hit the heavily fortified Green Zone where embassies and international companies are based in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least eight civilians and injuring dozens on Saturday.
Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said the “terrorists” mounted a rocket on a small truck and detonated it, adding an investigation was underway to find out how the vehicle got into the city undetected.
“Based on preliminary information, eight people were killed and 31 others injured,” said Arian, noting that the final number of victims would change.
Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz confirmed the toll and details were similar.
The ISIL (ISIS) affiliate in Afghanistan claimed the rocket attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. The armed group has carried out similar attacks in the past and has claimed responsibility for other attacks in Kabul.
Some residents recorded the projectiles being launched and posted them on social media. Several pictures circulating on Facebook show a wrecked car and a hole in the side of a building.
Taliban fighters, who are fighting against the foreign-backed Kabul government, denied involvement in the attack, saying they “did not shoot indiscriminately into public places”.
“The rocket attack in the city of Kabul has nothing to do with the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, using the group’s name for Afghanistan.
The attack sent warning sirens blaring from the embassy compound and came two days before the main donor conference for Afghanistan in Geneva, Switzerland.
The interior ministry also said two small “sticky bomb” explosions had been reported Saturday morning, including one that hit a police car, killing one policeman and injuring three others.
Since peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban broke down, attacks by him and other armed groups have increased, especially in the capital, which is home to more than five million Afghans.
Officials told the AFP news agency on Friday that a breakthrough in negotiations was expected to be announced in the coming days. The US State Department announced late Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would meet negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar on Saturday.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to end the “war forever” including in Afghanistan – the United States’ longest running conflict that began with an invasion to expel the Taliban after 11 September 2001 attack.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it would immediately pull some 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, accelerating the timetable laid down in a February agreement between Washington and the Taliban envisioning a full US withdrawal by mid-2021.
In the past six months, the Taliban carried out 53 suicide attacks and 1,250 bombings that killed 1,210 civilians and wounded 2,500 others, Arian said this week.
Earlier this month, several armed men charged Kabul University campus and killed at least 35 people, mostly students, and injured more than 50 others.
The attack was claimed by ISIL (ISIS) but the Afghan government said the Taliban’s ultra-violent Haqqani network was responsible.
US President-elect Joe Biden, on the point of a rare deal with Trump, has also advocated defeating the Afghan war although analysts believe he will not be too tied down to a quick schedule.
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