A car bomb explosion followed by sporadic gunfire hit Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Tuesday near the heavily fortified “Green Zone,” killing three civilians and three attackers, according to security officials, amid an uptick in Taliban militant violence.
At least seven other people were injured, according to Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, a spokesperson for the health ministry. According to a spokesperson for the interior ministry, all attackers were killed during the security forces’ operations.
According to a senior security official, the blast appeared to be the result of a car bomb, with the target being the acting defence minister’s home and an adjoining residence of a member of parliament.
The attack, which occurred in the heart of one of Kabul’s most secure areas, coincided with the Taliban’s escalation of violence. Attacks have increased dramatically since President Joe Biden announced that US troops would leave by September, even as the Taliban has increased its attacks on major cities.
Three unidentified gunmen were killed at the attack site on Tuesday, which is home to Afghan officials, legislators, and prominent residents.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Minutes after the blast, hundreds of civilians in Kabul came out on to the streets and chanted Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) to express their support for Afghan government forces and opposition to the Taliban.
The night-time march spilled across the city with mostly men and some women joining in the demonstrations, carrying candles and Afghan flags to signal united opposition to the hardline Islamist group.
“The whole world can choose to be silent about what is going on in Afghanistan but we can’t and won’t stay quiet anymore…we will stand side by side with our security forces until our last breath,” said a demonstrator in Kabul on condition of anonymity.
The country’s first Vice President Amrullah Saleh said the demonstrations were “historic moments” of “emotions and patriotism.”
“Allah o Akbar, death to Talib terrorists & their backer,” he said in a tweet at a time when Afghan forces flushed out militants in the overnight operations.
Last week, residents in the western province of Herat braved the streets despite nearby fighting to protest against the Taliban. Other cities quickly organised to join from their homes in the evenings, as a message of support for embattled security forces.
Following Tuesday’s bombing, acting Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi stated that he and his family were unharmed, but some of his security guards were injured.
At least 30 civilians were rescued from the blast site, according to a Kabul police spokesperson. In a tweet, the city’s Emergency Hospital stated that 11 people had been injured in the attack.
Afghan forces have urged residents of the southern city of Lashkar Gah to leave their homes and avoid areas where the Taliban has taken control, as they plan to launch operations against the group in areas where its fighters are free to roam.
The loss of Lashkar Gah would be a massive strategic setback for the government, which has pledged to defend strategic centres after losing much of the rural areas to the Taliban in recent months.
The Taliban said on Tuesday that their fighters assassinated a district governor in central Maidan Wardak province, the latest in a string of assassinations by the insurgent group aimed at eliminating senior government officials and social activists.