Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Auto bomb blast targets foreign aid group in Kabul

Map locating an attack in the Shar-e Naw area in Kabul Map locating an attack in the Shar-e Naw area in Kabul
Patty Aguilar | 09 May, 2019, 06:44

Afghan forces fought for hours against Taliban insurgents who killed at least four civilians and wounding dozens more when they stormed an aid organization in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, security officials said.

Counterpart International issued a statement in Arlington saying it believed all its staffers were safe and accounted for, but "we were informed that Afghan police security officers stationed at our front gate were killed during the attack".

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in a statement also condemned the insurgents for deliberately targeting a civilian aid organization.

Taliban spokesperson Mujahid said the aid group worked closely with government departments promoting women, an effort opposed by the hard-line Islamist group.

Nusrat Rahimi, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior Affairs, said the target of the attack was Counterpart International, an international organisation headquartered in the USA that is operating in Afghanistan since 2005.

Nine people had been taken to hospital with injuries, according to a Health Ministry spokesman, Wahidullah Mayar.

"Two floors of the building have been cleared and to avoid civilian casualties, the operation is being undertaken with caution", he said.

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called for peace with the Taliban last week and promised to free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began Monday.

Counterpart International has operated in Afghanistan since 2005 and runs civic engagement projects. "Their safety and security is our primary concern".

Meanwhile in a post on Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid claimed responsibility for the attack.

Before it was ousted from power in 2001, the Taliban banned women from working outside their homes and insisted they be accompanied by a male relative. The site of the explosion was close to the Attorney General's office, Reuters reported, citing a witness.

"We started running out of the building and while running outside, I heard small gunfire and the sound of grenades going off nearby", he said.

Johan Bass, U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, strongly condemned the attack on the NGO.

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