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Six die, scores are wounded in Kabul blast, gunfight

Wounded people receive treatment in a hospital after a powerful bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 1, 2019. A powerful bomb blast rocked the Afghan capital early Monday, rattling windows, sending smoke billowing from Kabul's downtown area and wounding dozens of people.

RAHMAT GUL/AP

By J.P. LAWRENCE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 1, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least six people were killed and scores were wounded, including dozens of schoolchildren, in a car bomb attack and an hours-long gunfight that targeted an Afghan military logistics depot in Kabul on Monday, Afghan officials said.

Four civilians and two policemen were killed in the attack, said Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

Nearly 90 people were injured in the complex attack, added Rahimi.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, which began with a thundering bomb blast heard throughout the city about 9 a.m., when the capital’s streets were filled with commuters.

All five attackers were killed and security forces had cleared the area by late afternoon following a gunfight that lasted about eight hours, the Interior Ministry said. An accomplice of the attackers was arrested, Rahimi said.

Fifty children from five different schools were wounded in the attack, the Education Ministry said in a statement.

The car bomb created a cloud of dust that blocked out the daylight, Abdul Mueed Hashimi, who said he witnessed the bombing, told Stars and Stripes via phone.

“Stones, broken bricks and pieces of iron were falling from above,” said Hashimi, who said his arm was injured in the attack.

Hashimi said he saw people carrying out of schools children who had been hit by shards of glass after the powerful car bomb explosion.

The attack occurred in eastern Kabul, about a mile south of the U.S. Embassy and NATO’s Resolute Support headquarters. After the initial blast, the attackers entered a high-rise building near a Defense Ministry facility and began exchanging gunfire with police, said Rahimi.

The area where the attack occurred is a mixed residential-and-commercial neighborhood that includes apartment buildings, schools, a museum for mines and explosives, and the country’s soccer federation. Officials from the sports body said 16 federation members had been injured in the attack.

Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah denounced the attack, which happened as U.S. diplomats met with Taliban leaders in Doha for a seventh round of peace talks.

“The Taliban’s terrorist attack near the Football Federation today in Kabul showcases the group’s inherent criminal nature,” Abdullah said on Twitter. “We will not be deterred by such outrage to pursue & punish the miscreants.”

A spokesman for office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called the attack on civilians “inhuman and a crime against humanity.”

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said on Twitter that the U.S. “strongly condemn(s) the Taliban’s latest brutal attack against fellow Afghans,” while Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Toby Lanzer, tweeted that he and other U.N. staff were donating blood for victims of the attack at an emergency hospital in Kabul.

Ten people were injured at the Shamshad TV station, where the blast shattered windows and sent glass flying, an employee said. The station stopped broadcasting after the car bomb exploded but resumed operations within an hour. The interruption raised fears the Taliban were making good on threats to target media outlets that broadcast government-sponsored messages opposing the insurgent group.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

lawrence.jp@stripes.com
Twitter: @jplawrence3

Smokes rises after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 1, 2019. Powerful explosion rocks Afghan capital, with smoke seen billowing from downtown area.
RAHMAT GUL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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