Multiple rockets hit Kabul after Afghan president offers Taliban ceasefire
Multiple rockets hit near the diplomatic area in the Afghan capital Kabul early on Tuesday, August 21 as officials said fighting had broken out between security forces and militants in the city’s old quarter.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, which came just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban a three-month ceasefire.
The Taliban has denied involvement in the attack.
Several rockets landed in the diplomatic quarter while Ghani was giving a speech. Some landed near the presidential palace, embassies and other government buildings, Reuters reported.
Military helicopters were firing above the Eidgah Mosque in Reka Khana district, where smoke was rising as police and the interior ministry said clashes were underway, amid a heavy security presence near the Kabul Stadium.
Six people were reported injured before the attack was over.
Update, August 21: The clearance operation ended Tuesday afternoon when the two insurgents were killed.
“Two attackers were involved. The enemy was firing mortars,” General Murad Ali Murad, commander of Kabul’s garrison, told a press conference.
Ghani unveiled the government’s latest ceasefire gambit during an Independence Day address late Sunday, saying security forces would observe the truce beginning this week – but only if the militants reciprocated.
The truce offer was welcomed by the United States and NATO after nearly 17 years of war, but the Taliban have yet to respond.
The move followed an extraordinarily violent week in Afghanistan that saw that Taliban storm the provincial capital of Ghazni – just a two-hour drive from Kabul – and press the fight against security forces across the country, with estimates suggesting hundreds of people may have been killed.
Ghani did not mention any ceasefire with other militant groups including Islamic State – Khorasan Province, which has expanded since it first emerged in the region in 2014 and was not included in the June ceasefire.
This story was updated throughout the day on August 21 with additional information.
With reporting from AFP