According to the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), on Saturday, several areas in the Afghan capital Kabul were hit by mortar shells, killing at least eight people. A few hours later, US Secretary of State Pompeo met with the Taliban delegation.
Tariq Arian, spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, told the media that the 23 shells were fired from two cars and at least 31 people were injured.
The report pointed out that Pompeo, who was visiting Doha, the capital of Qatar, was preparing to meet with representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban when the mortar attack occurred. At the same time, the two delegations are holding talks in Qatar, but progress is slow.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told NBC News that the attack was not committed by the Taliban. According to SITE Intelligence group, an intelligence website tracking violent extremist groups, the Afghan branch of the Islamic State extremist organization (ISIS) subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack.
The extremist group also claimed responsibility for several other recent attacks in Kabul, including two devastating attacks on educational institutions that killed more than 50 people, many of them students.
According to reports, the target of the attacks on Saturday was the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, where diplomatic missions of various countries are stationed. On Saturday, the Iranian Embassy posted a photo of shrapnel on Twitter and stated that at least one rocket fell on the embassy building, but added that no staff were injured.
The chief negotiator of the Afghan government peace talks, Abdullah Abdullah, condemned the attack on Twitter, calling it “cowardly”. He also said, “Intimidation and attacks on civilians must be stopped.”
The report pointed out that Pompeo stayed in Doha for a day and is expected to urge him to reduce violence during his talks with the Taliban and the Afghan government negotiating team.
In February of this year, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement to promote negotiations to end the protracted conflict in Afghanistan. Afterwards, the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators held regular meetings in Doha to try to promote a peace agreement, but no major breakthroughs have been made yet.
At the same time, violence in Afghanistan has increased dramatically in recent months, with many attacks killing civilians.
A few days before Pompeo’s trip, US Acting Secretary of Defense Miller stated that the United States would reduce the number of troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan by mid-January. Miller told reporters at the Pentagon that this decision fulfilled President Trump’s promise to withdraw US troops from the United States from a prolonged war, although some Republicans and US allies warned that withdrawing troops before conditions are ripe would be dangerous.