A car bomb exploded near a heavily fortified foreign compound in Kabul on Monday, killing at least four people and wounding 44, officials said, in the latest attack to rock the Afghan capital. At least 10 children were among the wounded, said interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the huge blast, which shook the city, but it comes as diplomatic efforts to end the 17-year war with the Taliban gather pace.
Danish added that a number of civilian houses around the area have been damaged in the explosion in Kabul's PD9, Tolo News reported. "Residential houses nearby have sustained heavy damages," Danish said. "Special police forces' units have been deployed to the site to check if there are more attackers."
An Afghan government security source told news agency Reuters that the explosion had taken place on Monday in eastern Kabul. "A blast was heard in Kabul, we are still investigating further," police spokesperson Basir Mujahid Kabul told Reuters.
Police spokesman Basir Mujahid told Reuters that said a vehicle full of explosives had detonated. “The area is cordoned off...and search operation underway for suspects and attackers,” he said. “It was a powerful car bomb that knocked (down) a wall between Green Village and the (adjacent) customs office,” a security source told the news agency. The attack caused at least several casualties who were taken to hospital, he said.
The last assault on a foreign compound was in late November when a Taliban-claimed vehicle bomb exploded outside the compound of British security firm G4S, killing at least 10 people. Five G4S employees were among the dead. That was followed by a suicide and gun attack on a government compound in Kabul on December 24 that killed at least 43 people, making it one of the deadliest assaults on the city last year.
The latest bombing comes as US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visits the region for meetings aimed at bringing an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan, which by some estimates was the world's deadliest conflict zone in 2018. Khalilzad, who met Taliban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, is travelling to Afghanistan as well as China, India and Pakistan on the trip lasting through January 21.
The leaking of US President Donald Trump's plan to slash troop numbers in Afghanistan, however, has threatened to derail those efforts. The recent flurry of activity to get the Taliban to the negotiating table has caused disquiet in Afghanistan, with the government feeling sidelined from the discussions. The Taliban has repeatedly refused to talk to Kabul, which it sees as a US puppet and ineffective.
(With AFP inputs)