Afghan security personnel arrive at the site of car bomb explosion in Kabul on Thursday. Rahmat Gul/AP
An Afghan official says at least 10 civilians are dead and another 42 wounded in a Taliban car bombing in Kabul near the US Embassy and the headquarters of the NATO Resolute Support mission.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi announced the new toll on Thursday afternoon. It was the second major Taliban bombing in Kabul this week.
The attacks are taking place even as a US envoy is in town to brief Afghanistan's president and others on a deal "in principle" that he has reached with the Taliban on ending America's longest war.
The Afghan government has warned that the deal from which Afghan officials have been sidelined is moving dangerously quickly.
A car bomb rocked the Afghan capital on Thursday and smoke rose from a Kabul neighborhood housing the US Embassy, the NATO Resolute Support mission and other diplomatic missions. At least three people were killed and another 30 wounded, a hospital director said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they targeted three vehicles of "foreigners" as they tried to enter the heavily guarded Shashdarak area where the Afghan national security authorities have offices.
It was the second major blast by the militant group in Kabul this week while a US envoy has been in town briefing officials on a US-Taliban deal "in principle" to end America's longest war.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the car bomb exploded on a main road, destroying at least 12 vehicles, and police quickly sealed off the area. The blast appeared to target a checkpoint in Shashdarak.
The Afghan government has expressed serious concerns about the US-Taliban deal, which US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said only needs the approval of President Donald Trump to become final.
Khalilzad says 5,000 US troops would withdraw from five bases in Afghanistan within 135 days of a final deal. Between 14,000 and 13,000 troops are currently in the country.
Thursday's blast occurred as Afghan presidential adviser Waheed Omer was speaking to reporters, warning that difficult days were ahead and describing the US-Taliban deal as moving with "excessive speed."
The Afghan government on Wednesday said it shares the concerns raised by several former US ambassadors to Afghanistan. Their joint statement warned that a full US troop withdrawal that moves too quickly and without requiring the Taliban to meet certain conditions, such as reducing violence, could lead to "total civil war."
The Taliban, at their strongest since their 2001 defeat by a US-led invasion, want all of the approximately 20,000 US and NATO troops out of Afghanistan immediately, while the US seeks a withdrawal in phases that would depend on the Taliban meeting certain conditions such as a reduction in violence.
The US also seeks Taliban guarantees that they will not allow Afghanistan to become a haven from which extremist groups such as al-Qaida and the local affiliate of the Daesh group can launch global attacks.
Witnesses and an AFP reporter also described hearing gunshots immediately after the blast at the electronic identification registration centre in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, where both the Taliban and the Daesh group are active.
US and Taliban officials have been negotiating in Qatar since last year on an agreement centred on the withdrawal of US forces, and an end to their longest-ever war, in exchange for a Taliban guarantee that international militant groups will not plot from Afghan soil.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai also defended the Taliban's role in recent bloodshed across the country after US President Donald Trump cited an attack that killed an American soldier as his reason for calling off negotiations earlier this month.
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