2 dead as terrorists storm office of Afghan president’s running mate
Former Afghan spy agency chief Amrullah Saleh, President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate in the upcoming elections, survived a suicide attack in Kabul on Sunday that left at least two persons dead and 12 injured, people familiar with developments said.
Saleh, a vocal critic of the Taliban and Pakistan’s security establishment that backs the militant group, was in the office of his Green Trend party when it was targeted by at least four suicide attackers. The people cited above described the attack as “complex” and said Saleh was safely evacuated from the site.
The Green Trend tweeted several photos of Saleh after his evacuation that showed bloodstains on the sleeve of his shirt but said he was “fine”. It said that several workers of the party and civilians were among the casualties.
Several explosions and gunfire were reported at the scene of the attack, and Afghan security officials told the media that two attackers were still inside the building. Reports said the attackers set off a car bomb.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the people cited above pointed the finger of blame at the Taliban. There were also indications that the attack was directed and sponsored by Pakistan-based elements, they said.
Ghani said in a tweet: “My brother, true son of the Afghan soil and first VP candidate of my electoral team, @AmrullahSaleh2 has survived a complex attack by enemies of the state.”
Saleh, a former chief of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), has survived several attacks by the Taliban. Observers believe the inclusion of the Tajik strongman as Ghani’s electoral team will bolster the president’s prospects amongst Afghanistan’s minorities.
Afghanistan’s public health ministry said two persons were killed and 13 more injured in the attack.
Media reports quoted witnesses as saying that the attackers stormed the seven-storey building of the Green Trend party at a time when party leaders and workers were busy with the first day of campaigning for the presidential election in September.
The attack also came hours after the Taliban said they would not hold any direct talks with Ghani’s government and rejected a statement made by a minister on Saturday that the group was set to hold talks with the government in a European country in two weeks.