Ava E. Holtzer
At least ten people have been killed after a bomb attack in Kabul on September 9. The attack targeted Afghanistan’s first vice president Amrullah Saleh. An additional 31 people have been wounded, including several of the vice president’s bodyguards, says Associated Press. Saleh sustained minor injuries and burns in the attack.
Saleh, who is also Afghanistan’s former intelligence chief, appeared on television after the attack with bandages on his hands, and reassured viewers that he was in good condition. He confirmed that his younger son, who was in the car with him, was also fine. “I have slight burns on my face and hand from the wave of the blast.” He further said that he lacked the exact details at the moment but apologized “to those who suffered casualties and those who lost their property in the attack” reports Los Angeles Times. In an interview with Aljazeera, Interior ministry spokesman Arian said, “the blast also ignited a huge fire in the area, a section of Kabul where shops sell gas cylinders for use in heating homes and cooking. He feared the casualty figures could rise further.”
A witness drove by as the attack happened and gave a description of the incident as it took place. ““I lost one of my brothers, and the other one is hurt,”” he said in an interview with Reuters. He criticized the government, saying that neither the ambulance nor the police had arrived yet, BBC reported. The attack was condemned by the European Union and Pakistan. The EU delegation in Afghanistan said on Twitter, “This is an attack on the Republic, & desperate act by spoilers of peace efforts, who must be collectively confronted.”
Saleh’s spokesperson, Razwan Murad said, “Today, once again the enemy of Afghanistan tried to harm Saleh, but they failed in their evil aim, and Saleh escaped the attack unharmed.” Saleh, who has been a staunch critic of the Taliban, has fallen victim to multiple terrorists attacks including one last year that killed 20 people, says Reuters.
As reported by Aljazeera, the Taliban has denied responsibility of the attack. “Today’s explosion in Kabul has nothing to do with the Mujahedeen of Islamic Emirate” the Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahed, said according to Associated Press. The insurgent group pledged not to launch targeted attacks in urban areas as part of a deal with the United States.
The bomb comes just days before peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were scheduled to take place. “In recent days, Washington, officials in Kabul and the Taliban have all indicated that they could get under way imminently,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The peace talks, called intra-Afghan negotiations, are hoped to end over 20 years of war in Afghanistan, according to The New York Times.
The Intra-Afghan negotiations belong to a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban, signed back in February. The peace deal will allow U.S. troops to move out of Afghanistan and is hailed as the best chance at peace after decades of conflict in the Middle Eastern country. At best, the U.S. troop pullout hinges on the commitments from the Taliban to fight other armed groups. As part of the deal, the Taliban has vowed to prevent militant groups- such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria- from using Afghanistan as a base for staging attacks.
With peace talks on the horizon, officials and diplomats are weary of the repercussions that such violence will likely cause. These attacks are feared to weaken the vital trust needed for successful peace talks and should be pushed back by the international community.