Deadly Rocket Attack Rattles Afghan Capital

Officials in Afghanistan say about two dozen mortar shells hit downtown Kabul on Saturday morning, killing at least eight people and injuring 31 more.Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the rockets were fired from the back of two vehicles and slammed into different parts of the capital.The Iranian embassy in Kabul said one of the rockets also landed at its compound. “Fortunately, there were no casualties and all Embassy’s staff are in good health. #Afghanistan,” the diplomatic mission tweeted.One of the rockets fired this morning, landed at our Embassy compound. Fortunately, there were no casualties and all Embassy’s staff are in good health.— Embassy of I.R. Iran in Kabul, Afghanistan (@IRANinKabul) November 21, 2020Earlier this month, three Islamic State gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed Kabul University and killed 22 people, mostly Afghan students. The Iranian ambassador was also present inside the campus at the time of the attack, but he escaped unhurt.A spokesperson for the Taliban insurgent group quickly denied its involvement in the deadly attack, raising suspicions the Islamic State could be behind it.The terrorist outfit had taken responsibility for a similar rocket attack in March that targeted the presidential inauguration in Kabul.The violence came just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to meet separately with negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government in Doha, the capital of Qatar.The Afghan rivals have been engaged in a U.S.-brokered peace dialogue since early September, but the process is deadlocked over framework-related disputes.Pompeo is on a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East. The State Department said Friday the chief U.S. diplomat will also see Qatari leaders on his stop in Doha, where the Taliban maintains its politic office.The U.S. acting ambassador in Kabul, Ross Wilson, condemned the rocket attack.“Afghans should not have to live in terror.  My condolences to the victims and those families of those killed and wounded. … The United States will continue to work with our Afghan partners to prevent such attacks and hold their perpetrators to account,” Wilson tweeted.(1/2) I condemn this morning’s rocket and IED explosions in Kabul. Afghans should not have to live in terror. My condolences to the victims and those families of those killed and wounded.— Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson (@USAmbKabul) November 21, 2020Saturday’s barrage of rockets on Kabul comes amid recent spike in battlefield between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents, killing scores of combatants on both sides and civilians in November alone. 

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