Asia

Afghanistan violence: Car bomb attack in Kabul kills 10

Afghan security forces inspect the scene after a suicide attack targeted a checkpoint in downtown Kabul Image copyright EPA
Image caption The attack took place in a highly protected area of the Afghan capital

A car bomb attack in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 10 people and injured 40 others, officials say.

The blast happened near a security checkpoint in a highly protected area close to embassies and government buildings.

Taliban militants said they had carried out the attack.

Kabul has been gripped by a surge in violence since the US and the Taliban reached an agreement in principle to bring an end to the war.

As part of the deal with the militants, the US would withdraw 5,400 troops from Afghanistan within 20 weeks, according to US top negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad.

The attack took place on a road near the Nato office and US embassy in the Kabul's heavily fortified Green Zone, and destroyed cars and nearby shops. The Taliban said they had targeted a convoy of foreign forces.

Two of the victims were identified as members of the Nato-led mission in the country, Resolute Support - one from Romania, the other from the US. Earlier, a spokesman for the interior ministry said all victims were civilians.

On Monday, a truck bomb exploded close to a compound housing foreigners killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 100, an attack that was also claimed by the Taliban.

The recent attacks have highlighted fears that US negotiations with the Taliban will not end the daily violence in Afghanistan and its terrible toll on civilians.

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Media captionThe view from Lashkar Gah province on whether peace with the Taliban is possible

Earlier in the week, nine former top US diplomats warned that Afghanistan could collapse into a "total civil war" if President Donald Trump withdrew all American forces before a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The group - which included five former ambassadors to Kabul, a former special envoy to Afghanistan and a former deputy secretary of state - said a "major troop withdrawal must be contingent on a final peace".

"The initial US drawdown should not go so far or so fast that the Taliban believe that they can achieve military victory. In that case, they will not make compromises for peace with other Afghan political forces," they said.

The text, published on the website of the Atlantic Council think tank, came after Mr Khalilzad outlined the deal with the Taliban, reached after nine rounds of peace talks that have been held in the Gulf state of Qatar.

In exchange for the US troop withdrawal, the militants would ensure that Afghanistan would never again be used as a base for militant groups seeking to attack the US and its allies.

The US currently has about 14,000 troops in the country.

But Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the government was concerned about the consequences of the deal and that the authorities wanted more information about the risks it posed.

Many in Afghanistan fear that a US-Taliban deal could see hard-won rights and freedoms eroded. The militants enforced strict religious laws and treated women brutally under their rule from 1996 to 2001.

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