One civilian killed in Kabul rocket attacks

Afghan men gather at the site of a rocket attack at a residential house in Kabul on Dec 12, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KABUL (AFP) - A series of rockets struck Kabul on Saturday (Dec 12), killing one person and wounding two, officials said, the second such attack to rock the Afghan capital in less than a month.

Violence has surged across Afghanistan in recent months, with several deadly attacks carried out in Kabul, despite the Taleban and the government engaging in peace talks since Sept 12 in Qatar.

"This morning, 10 rockets were fired from the Labe Jar neighbourhood of Kabul," interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters.

He said three rockets landed near Kabul airport and seven in residential areas, leaving one civilian dead and two wounded.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, saying it was targeting the military section of Kabul airport, the militant media monitor SITE said.

The barrage of rockets on Saturday was the second such attack in less than a month in Kabul.

On Nov 21, eight people were killed and 31 were wounded when 23 rockets hit the capital in an attack claimed by ISIS.

The extremist group has also claimed two brutal attacks on educational centres in the capital that killed mostly students, including one on Kabul University during which gunmen sprayed classrooms with bullets.

Authorities blamed the attacks on educational centres on the Haqqani network, an affiliate of the Taleban.

Afghan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh said on his Facebook page on Saturday that he had received a warning from ISIS that it would "transform Kabul into a slaughterhouse for Shiites" if any of the extremist group's militants arrested by government forces were executed.

In recent months, Saleh and his aides have pushed for public trials of "terrorists" arrested in connection with deadly attacks and for those found guilty to be hanged publicly.

ISIS has regularly claimed attacks targeting the minority Shi'ite Hazara community in Afghanistan.

In a separate statement, the interior ministry said attacks such as Saturday's were aimed at "soft targets".

"The enemies of the people of Afghanistan have intensified the violence," it said.

"But they have failed to capture districts and they have lost in the battlefields, so they have resorted to hitting at soft targets," it said.

Violence has surged amid an ongoing withdrawal of US troops as President Donald Trump pushes to end America's longest war.

In November, the Pentagon said it would pull 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan, speeding up the timeline established in a February agreement between Washington and the Taleban that envisions a full withdrawal by May 2021.

That deal also stipulates that the Taleban will not target key cities in the country, although Afghan authorities have blamed them for such attacks.

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