RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
At least 12 people have been killed -- including a U.S. and a Romanian soldier -- and dozens more injured when a car bomb struck a checkpoint on September 5 in a neighborhood of Kabul that houses the embassies, government buildings, and local NATO headquarters.
The fundamentalist Taliban claimed responsibility for the late-morning attack.
It is the second major Taliban attack in the Afghan capital this week as U.S. and Taliban officials are said to be in an intense final phase of efforts toward a peace deal to end their 18-year conflict.
Another Taliban car bombing later on September 5, in a neighboring province, reportedly killed at least four civilians.
The Taliban, which is pressing for the departure of U.S. and other international troops in the negotiations, claimed that foreigners were among the dead in the September 5 attack in Kabul. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that the suicide bomber had killed 12 "foreign invaders."
Reports said the checkpoint that was targeted was near the headquarters of NATO's Resolute Support mission.
NATO said in a statement later in the day that two members of that mission, a Romanian and an American, "were killed in action today in Kabul."
Romanian authorities have confirmed that a Romanian soldier on "a mixed patrol mission" was among the dead and another Romanian was seriously wounded.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the attack and stressed his country's "profound commitment to combating terrorism at the international level."
A large plume of smoke rose over the blast and sirens blared as first responders rushed to the scene.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said a minibus packed with explosives had detonated on a main road in the Shash Darak district at around 10:10 a.m. local time.
Ten civilians were dead and 42 others were injured in the attack, Rahimi later tweeted.
Later reports put the number of injured at more than 100.
Agreement Reached 'In Principle'
Quoting a spokesman for Kabul's police chief, AP suggested the attack was also not far from offices of Afghan national-security authorities.
A draft agreement to end years of war in Afghanistan was said to have been reached "in principle" recently between U.S. and Taliban representatives after nine rounds of talks involving U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been briefing Afghan officials on its terms.
But completion of the deal is reportedly still contingent on final approval from U.S. President Donald Trump and assent among Taliban leaders.
The Afghan government is also said to be weighing its position on the agreement.
Afghan presidential Waheed Omer, who was talking to reporters at the time of the September 5 explosion, said the deal was proceeding with "excessive speed" and warned of difficult times ahead, according to AP.
A Taliban suicide attack late on September 2 killed at least 16 people and injured more than 100 others, also in eastern Kabul. The dead in that attack included another Romanian.
So far in 18 such attacks in the Afghan capital this year, at least 209 people have been killed and more than 1,000 others injured, according to dpa.
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