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Taliban hit Afghan capital with three bombings, kill at least 10

25 Jul 2019 Japan Times

KABUL - The Taliban unleashed three bombings in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing at least 10 people — including five women and a child — as the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff was visiting Kabul, officials said.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford was in the Afghan capital to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, according to a statement from the president’s office. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the bombings.

The morning’s first attack was carried out by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle who blew himself up in front of a bus carrying Ministry of Mines employees, said Nasrat Rahim, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

A suicide car bomb then struck in the capital’s east, according to police officer Abdul Rahman, who said the bomber targeted international coalition forces in Kabul.

However, NATO troops told The Associated Press their forces were not at the site when the explosion happened.

The third blast was a smaller magnetic explosive device left near the scene of the bus attack, which caused no deaths, said Rahim, the Interior Ministry spokesman.

At least 41 people were also wounded in the attacks, said Wahidullah Mayar, a spokesman for country’s Health Ministry.

The Taliban control around half the country and have continued to launch daily assaults, mainly targeting Afghan security forces, even while holding negotiations with the U.S. aimed at ending the 18-year war.

President Ghani’s office issued a statement saying he and Dunford had met to discuss peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Later Thursday, the State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ghani had spoken by phone the previous day, agreeing it was time to accelerate efforts to reach a negotiated end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest conflict.

Pompeo assured Ghani of President Donald Trump’s commitment to a conditions-based drawdown of U.S. forces in the country.

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been negotiating with the Taliban, is also in Kabul to discuss in detail the next steps on the road to peace. The Taliban have steadfastly refused to talk directly with Ghani’s government, calling it a U.S. puppet.

Separately, in the eastern Nangarhar province, a roadside bomb killed seven people and wounded four others who were traveling in a vehicle on Thursday, said Ataullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Among the dead were six women and one child, Khogyani said, adding that they were on their way to attend a wedding party.

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