Minivan bomb kills seven in Kabul

Kabul minivan bomb kills seven, including four foreigners and a child
3 min read
13 November, 2019
Afghanistan has witnessed a wave of bombings as part of a Taliban and IS insurgency.
Hundreds have died in bombings in Afghanistan this year [Getty]
A minivan packed with explosives exploded in the Afghan capital during rush hour on Wednesday morning, killing seven people, including four foreigners, an interior ministry said.

The bomb - targeting an SUV belonging to a private Canadian security company, GardaWorld - was detonated in a neighbourhood close to the interior ministry and north of Kabul airport.

"As a result, seven of our people were killed and ten, including four foreign members of the security company, were wounded," he said, describing the dead as Afghan civilians.

He did not confirm the nationalities of the foreigners involved, although a suicide bomber is thought to have detonated the explosives.

Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi said that one of those killed was a 13-year-old child heading to school.

"The enemies of our people should know that our people are determined for peace, nothing can stop them from achieving peace," he said.

The Taliban and the Islamic State group have detonated dozens of bombs in Kabul over the past years, although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

It comes a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced that Kabul would release three high-ranking Taliban prisoners in an apparent prisoner swap with Western hostages who were kidnapped by the insurgents in 2016.

These include Anas Haqqani, who was seized in 2014 and whose older brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani network, a notorious Taliban affiliate.

Ghani did not specify the fate of the Western hostages - an Australian and an American, both professors at the American University in Kabul - and it was not clear when or where they would be freed.

The two, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, were kidnapped by Taliban militants in Kabul city centre in 2016, later appearing in a video appearing haggard and with the former in poor health.

Ghani noted in his speech that "their health has been deteriorating while in the custody of the terrorists".

He also did not state when or where the Taliban prisoners would be freed.

The Taliban have not yet confirmed the prisoner swap.

"When our captives reach their destination, the American University professors will be released," he said.

Ghani said that he hoped the decision would help "pave the way" for the start of unofficial direct talks between his government and the Taliban, who have long refused to negotiate with the administration in Kabul.

The United Nations reported last month that an "unprecedented" number of civilians were casualties in Afghanistan from July to September 2019, including 1,174 dead and 3,139 injured.

The UN laid most of the blame at the feet of "anti-government elements" such as the Taliban, who have been carrying out an insurgency in Afghanistan for more than 18 years.

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