At least 20 killed in suicide bombing near Afghan intelligence agency officeA loud explosion ripped through central Kabul during morning rush hour today, a week after the Taliban announced the start of their annual spring fighting season.
Kabul: At least 20 people were killed today when a powerful suicide bombing rocked the central Kabul, a week after the Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive, Afghan media reported.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack near the Afghan intelligence agency office, which sent clouds of acrid smoke billowing in the sky and rattled windows several miles away.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed their fighters had managed to enter the office of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the main Afghan spy agency. Afghan officials, however, did not confirm that claim but intense gun battles could be heard near the NDS compound.
According to Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi the first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and possibly one or two bombers are still resisting. “The scene of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces."
"Today's terrorist attack near Puli Mahmood Khan area of Kabul city demonstrates the clear defeat of the enemy in the face-to-face fight against Afghan security forces," the Afghan Presidential Palace said in a statement on Twitter.
The Afghan Taliban had last week announced the start of their spring offensive even as the government in Kabul seeks to bring the insurgents back to the negotiating table to end their drawn-out conflict.
The Taliban warned they would employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country during the offensive dubbed Operation Omari in honour of the movement's late founder Mullah Omar, whose death was announced last year.