Explosion, gunfire as militants target Afghan communications ministry in Kabul


Afghan security forces rescue people after an explosion followed by gunfire in the ministry of information and technology of Afghanistan's main building, Kabul, Afghanistan, Apr. 20, 2019. EPA/JAWAD JALALI

KABUL.- At least three suicide bombers launched an attack on a post office building in Kabul on Saturday, according to a government spokesperson who did not provide more details of casualties or the nature or extent of the attack.

Hundreds of civilians were rescued from the Afghan ministry of communications and information technology after an explosion followed by the sound of sporadic gunfire had been heard in the complex, Nasrat Rahimi, Interior Ministry spokesperson, told Efe.

«Hundreds of civilians have been rescued,» the spokesperson said, adding that police and special forces were combing the area.

Local television broadcast video images showing some smoke emerging from somewhere near the ministry and people climbing out of windows with the help of police.

Rahimi had also tweeted that three suicide bombers had launched the attack on the ministry complex and the post office building at 11.40 am, “taking advantage of a holy shrine.”

He said two of the attackers had been shot and that police had surrounded the area and foiled the attack. Images showed police escorting suspects away from the scene.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack until now.

«The Kabul attack today has nothing to do with the Islamic Emirate,» said Zabiullah Mujahid, an official spokesperson for the Taliban.

Kabul police spokesperson Basir Mujahid had also confirmed the attack and said that “it is not clear yet but probably insurgents entered the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology compound. Exact details will be shared later.”

Last month, six people were killed and 23 were injured in three explosions near a shrine in Kabul, frequented by members of the Shia minority.

The attack, the latest and most significant attack in the Afghan capital, took place on the day of the Afghan New Year or Nauruz.

Saturday’s attack comes after the government of Qatar had canceled the first-ever peace talks between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government in the presence of a United States delegation.
The meeting was set to be held this weekend but was canceled after the host, Qatar, rejected a list of 250 participants provided by the Afghan government.

In recent months, the US and the Taliban have held various rounds of negotiations that have not included any representation from Kabul.

However, Kabul maintains that any negotiations with the Taliban must be led by Afghan authorities.

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