Series of explosions in residential areas of Kabul, number of injured: reports
About 23 mortar shells hit different parts of the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring 31 others, an official said.
The shells were fired from two cars, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said. No one took immediate responsibility for the morning attack that also targeted the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul, which is home to diplomatic missions.
The Taliban issued a swift statement denying any responsibility for the attack. The Islamic State affiliate also operates in the region and has claimed responsibility for recent assaults in Kabul, including two devastating attacks on educational institutions that have killed more than 50 people, many of them students.
In addition to the insurgent groups, there are several heavily armed warlords with militias living in Kabul with longstanding animosities against each other.
The mortar barrage comes as Afghan government officials and the Taliban have continued to hold talks in Qatar, although progress has been slow. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to push for a reduction in violence during his meetings with Taliban and government negotiating teams later Saturday during a one-day layover in Doha. The Taliban have mostly ignored these earlier demands.
Hours before the attack rocked Kabul, a bomb attached to a car killed a security member and wounded three others in an eastern part of the capital, the Kabul police spokesman said, Ferdaws Faramarz.
Violence in Afghanistan has increased in recent months with increasingly gruesome attacks often claimed by the Islamic State affiliate. Yet the Taliban lead almost daily assaults against besieged Afghan security forces.
There have been growing calls for a ceasefire if the peace talks are to continue. The Taliban have been firm in their refusal, demanding that any ceasefire be part of the negotiations.
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