KABUL – At least 11 people were killed and 65 were wounded in Afghanistan’s capital on Monday in a vehicle bombing claimed by the Taliban against a defense ministry building.
The bombing was followed by a shootout between security forces and the insurgents that is ongoing.
The explosion occurred around 8.55 am in the high-security Pul-i-Mahmoud Khan area in central Kabul, said Afghan Interior Ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi on Twitter.
Although Ministry of Public Health spokesperson Wahidullah Mayar said on Twitter that the attack had left at least one person dead and another 65 wounded, including nine children, a member of the security forces, who requested anonymity, told EFE that 11 people had been killed.
The attack began with the detonation of a vehicle bomb, after which several gunmen entered a building, according to Rahimi, who did not provide further details.
In a subsequent message, Rahimi said that the police had killed one of the attackers and were engaged in a shootout with other insurgents.
The Taliban claimed the attack in a statement and said that the target had been the logistics and engineering department of the Ministry of Defense.
The initial explosion at the entrance opened the way for insurgents to enter the building and target personnel inside, the statement said.
It added that several soldiers and defense ministry officials had been killed so far and that the attack was still underway.
“As the first blast was very heavy, in nearest areas a number of civilians injured due to broken glass, but the target was the directorate not the civilians,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Following the explosion, which could be heard several kilometers away, a huge rising column of smoke could be seen.
Defense ministry vice-spokesperson Fawad Aman confirmed to EFE that the attack occurred near the ministry’s logistics and engineering department.
Facilities located near the site of the bombing include the headquarters of Shamshad TV where several of its employees were wounded in the explosion, said one of its journalists who spoke to EFE.
Kabul has been hit with several attacks so far this year, the last of which occurred a month ago when a sticky bomb placed on a bus carrying Afghan officials left five dead and around 10 wounded.
Monday’s attack occurs at a time when a Taliban delegation and United States representatives are carrying out the seventh round of meetings in Qatar to discuss peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
Both sides are seeking a way out of nearly two decades of armed conflict in the nation, although, so far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.
According to the latest data from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the government’s territorial control has reached its lowest point since the data collection began in 2015, with just 54 percent in its hands.