Afghan forces capture four Taleban for rocket attack

KABUL (AFP) – Afghan forces have captured four Taleban fighters including a militant commander for carrying out this week’s rocket attack targeting the presidential palace in Kabul during the Muslim Aidiladha prayers, officials said yesterday.

At least three rockets landed near the palace on Tuesday as President Ashraf Ghani and his top officials performed outdoor prayers to mark the start of the Muslim holiday.

The Interior Ministry said police had arrested four Taleban fighters in an operation in Kabul who were behind the attack, which was claimed by the extremist Islamic State (IS) group.

“A Taleban commander, Momin, along with his three other men, have been arrested. They all belong to the Taleban group,” ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai told reporters in a video message.

He said Momin was a key organiser of the rocket attack, and the group was also involved in other attacks.

The palace was also attacked last year as hundreds gathered for Ghani’s inauguration for a second term as president. That attack was also claimed by IS.

The Taleban have announced ceasefires during past Islamic holidays in recent years, offering respite to Afghans who can visit family in relative safety, but no such offer was made on this occasion.

The rocket attack on Tuesday came as the Taleban capitalise on the last stages of the withdrawal of United States (US)-led foreign forces from Afghanistan, capturing scores of districts, border crossings and encircling several provincial capitals.

Security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan. PHOTO: AP