One dead as Taliban car bomber targets Nato convoy near Kabul airport

  • Agencies, Kabul
  • Updated: Dec 28, 2015 13:15 IST
An Afghan policeman looks at the wreckage of a car which was used in a suicide car bomb near the international airport, in Kabul on December 28, 2015. A Taliban bomber has detonated an explosives-packed vehicle near Kabul airport in an attack on a NATO convoy, killing one civilian. (AFP)

A Taliban bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle near Kabul airport on Monday morning in an attack on a NATO convoy, killing one civilian a day after Pakistan’s army chief visited the Afghan capital in an effort to revive peace talks.

The head of Kabul police, Abdul Rahman Rahimi, said one person had been killed and 13 wounded, including three women. He said the aim of the attack in an overwhelmingly civilian area was to create fear among Afghans.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter: “One civilian killed and (four) civilians wounded in today’s car bomb explosion.”

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents were behind the suicide attack on a foreign forces convoy, claiming that “several invading forces were killed and wounded”. However, the Taliban are known to exaggerate battlefield claims.

In a brief statement, NATO said it was investigating the incident.

Watch | Suicide bomb attack near Kabul airport kills 1 civilian

A police officer at the scene said the suicide bomber walked up to a white pickup truck and detonated explosives he was wearing. A minibus was also destroyed by the explosion, which shattered the windows of nearby shops.

In response to talks?

The attack comes a day after Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif visited Kabul in a bid to prepare the ground for fresh peace talks with the Taliban.

“Both sides agreed that the first round of dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China will be held in January to lay out a comprehensive roadmap for peace,” the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement.

There was no immediate reaction from the Taliban to the announcement of the four-party talks.

Asim Bajwa, a Pakistani military spokesman, said on Twitter that the talks will be held in the first week of January but did not disclose the venue.

Pakistan, known to back the Taliban, hosted a milestone first round of talks in July but the negotiations stalled when the insurgents belatedly confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.

Afghanistan sees the support of longtime nemesis Pakistan as vital to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

But despite the growing bonhomie, analysts caution that any substantive talks are still a long way off.

Afghan forces are currently battling to push out Taliban insurgents who seized large swathes of the key opium-rich district of Sangin in southern Helmand province.

Observers say the intensifying insurgency highlights a push by the militants to make more military gains in a bid to wrangle greater concessions during talks.

The offensive has prompted the first British deployment to the volatile province in 14 months.

The deployment, in addition to a recent arrival of US special forces in the region, comes a year after NATO forces formally ended their combat operations in the country.

The British and US intervention has fuelled the perception that foreign powers are increasingly being drawn back into the conflict as Afghan forces struggle to rein in the Taliban.

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide car bomb attack near the Kabul airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. (AP)

December offensive

Monday’s bombing isn’t the first in recent times. It follows a series of attacks this month claimed by Taliban insurgents, including an assault on a Spanish embassy guesthouse in the capital that began on December 11 and a suicide bombing near Bagram air base that killed six American troops on December 22.

Earlier this month, Taliban militants and Afghan security forces were locked in a more than 24-hours battle at an airbase outside Kandahar city. Militants had taken hostages in the attack that was also targeting foreign nationals. The airbase is home to US military operations as well NATO forces.

The Taliban have been ramping up attacks on government and foreign targets in brazen attacks despite the harsh winter season when the fighting usually winds down. The resurgent militant group has also been battling to seize a key southern district in Afghanistan’s opium-growing heartland.

Read | Death toll jumps to 50 in Kandahar airport siege: officials

Read | Six American soldiers killed by suicide bomb in Afghanistan

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