A suicide attack targeting a military academy has killed at least six people in Kabul early on Tuesday, in what was the first major assault in the Afghan capital in months.
Along with the six – two civilians and four military personnel – killed, 12 other people, including five civilians, were wounded in the attack, said Nasrat Rahimi, the Ministry of Interior spokesman.
The Ministry of Defense, however, said five people were killed in the attack that took place at the gate of the Marshal Fahim Military Academy at approximately 7am (02:30 GMT), Reuters News Agency reported.
“It was a big explosion that rocked our house. We also heard gunfire afterwards. Ambulances rushed to the area quickly,” resident Samiullah, who goes by one name, told AFP.
A security source speaking on the condition of anonymity told AFP that the attacker was on foot when he targeted a vehicle near a checkpoint as it was entering the academy, known as “Sandhurst in the Sand” in reference to the famous British school.
The military academy has been the scene of several attacks in the past, including an ISIL-claimed assault last May that left six people dead.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes after nearly three months of relative calm in the capital.
Tuesday’s blast comes as Washington and the Taliban wrangle over a possible deal that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees from the Afghan armed group.
The Taliban have refrained from attacking major urban centres, though violence in the provinces has continued, bringing frequent attacks on Afghan and US security forces.
The last major attack in the capital was in November 2019, when at least 12 people were killed by a minivan packed with explosives that targeted a foreign security company’s convoy during Kabul’s morning rush hour.
The Taliban today control or hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since the 2001 US invasion that toppled the armed group.
The US and the Taliban had been negotiating for a year and were on the brink of a deal in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing continuing Taliban violence.
Talks were later restarted in December in Qatar, but paused again following an attack near the US-run Bagram military base in Afghanistan.
As talks have fluctuated, violent attacks in the country have raged, with the number of clashes jumping to record levels in the last quarter of 2019, according to a recent US government watchdog report.