KABUL – At least 14 people were killed and 145 were injured on Wednesday after an explosives-laden vehicle blew up near a police checkpoint in southwestern Kabul, according to Afghan authorities.
Some 14 were killed while 145 others were injured, 92 of them civilians, Deputy Interior Minister Khoshal Sadat said in a press conference in Kabul.
The attack occurred at around 9:00 am in the PD-6 district when a the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated, apparently targeting a checkpoint belonging to a nearby police station, Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said in a statement.
The motive behind the attack was to take control of the police station of the area, Rahimi added.
The explosion generated a large plume of smoke that could be seen from different parts of the city and damaged a part of the police station, while the building lost their roofs and windows.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the incident in a tweet, saying it was a suicide attack targeting an “enemy recruitment center” near the police station.
The group said that the attack was carried out by “Mullah Jabbar Logari, using an explosive-laden truck,”
“The powerful explosion destroyed the buildings, killing and wounding dozens of gunmen including officers,” the Taliban said and added that civilian movement was not allowed in the area where the attack took place.
General Sadat, in a press conference in Kabul on Wednesday said that despite the attack, Taliban is suffering huge low in the war and has “lost 4769 fighters” since the announcement of spring offensive.
Presidential office spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said that “Taliban’s attacks (on Wednesday) show that they do not have any respect to peace. They do not abide by any rules (...) death is waiting for them.”
Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah said that the, “the terrorists aim to disrupt the presidential election campaign,” which is to take place on Sept. 28 and he is one of the main rivals of President Ashraf Ghani.
The Taliban had threatened to use violence during the election process and warned that its fighters would do anything to block the process of what it called “theatrical” elections which was nothing more than a “ploy” of the “foreigners,” referring to the United States.
The election process began on July 28 with rallies of President Ghani.
On that day, a group of armed men attacked the office of president’s running mate, Amrullah Saleh. The gun battle lasted for about six hours and killed 24 people and left 50 others wounded. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
These attacks have coincided with the eighth round of ongoing peace talks between the United States and representatives of the Taliban insurgency in Qatar, where both sides are negotiating an agreement to bring an end to two decades of war.
Despite the talks, violence has continued to grip the country with repeated attacks, including in the Afghan capital, resulting in dozens of deaths.
The United Nations has attributed this uptick in violence to an attempt by insurgents to obtain the upper hand in the negotiations.