Taliban car bomb rocks Afghan capital near US Embassy area

A loud explosion has rocked the capital of Afghanistan, with reports of casualties in the attack near a neighbourhood housing the US Embassy and other diplomatic missions.

The blast took place on Thursday in Shash Darak, a heavily fortified area adjacent to the Green Zone and home to several important complexes including the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence service.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said a car bomb had exploded on the main road and police were sealing off the area. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Ambulances and rescue teams are being rushed to the blast site,” he added.

Three bodies and 30 wounded people were brought to the nearby Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan hospital, said its director, Gul Ahmad Ayubi.

Video footage and photographs posted on social media showed several cars and small shops ripped apart and police cordoning off the road.

A Taliban suicide bombing in eastern Kabul on Monday night – which the armed group said targeted a compound housing aid agencies and international organisations – killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 100, almost all of them residents.

The capital has been gripped by a surge in deadly violence even after the US and the Taliban reached an agreement “in principle” that would see the Pentagon pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for various Taliban security promises.

The US top negotiator for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said this week the two sides had drawn up a draft framework agreement under which US troops would leave five military bases in Afghanistan within 135 days of the signing of the pact.

There are some 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, deployed at various bases across the country.

Khalilzad is expected to meet Afghan and NATO officials to explain the draft agreement, which must be approved by US President Donald Trump before it can be signed.

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