Mortar shells hit Kabul residential areas; eight dead

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AP) – About 23 mortar shells slammed into different parts of the Afghan capital yesterday, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 others, an official said.

The shells were fired from two cars, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said. No one took immediate responsibility for the early morning attack that also targetted the posh Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, which houses diplomatic missions.

At least one rocket landed in the Iranian Embassy compound. In a tweet, Iran’s embassy in Kabul in confirmed that a rocket came down in the courtyard of the embassy compound and “a number of shrapnel” hit the embassy’s main building, causing some damage to windows and equipment, without specifying the equipment.

“Fortunately the incident has no casualty and all the staff are in good health,” said the tweet.

The Taleban issued a quick statement denying any responsibility for the attack.

The Islamic State (IS) group affiliate also operates in the area and has claimed responsibility for recent assaults in Kabul including two devastating attacks on educational institutions that killed more than 50 people, many of them students.

As well as insurgent groups, there are several heavily armed warlords with militias living in Kabul with long-standing animosities against each other.

Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Kabul for the first time since his election in 2018, condemned the attack and warned “it is important to be vigilant against the spoilers who are working to undermine the peace efforts.” He did not identify “the spoilers”.

The mortar barrage comes as representatives of the Afghan government and the Taleban continued to hold talks in Qatar, though progress has been slow.