June 3, 2019
ISLAMABAD — Officials in Afghanistan say a powerful bomb ripped through a minibus carrying government employees in Kabul Monday, killing at least five people and injuring 10 others.
The deadly attack in the capital occurred on the eve of annual Eid al-Fitr festivities that marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
The violence comes as the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, visits the region. He is scheduled to hold a fresh round of peace talks with Qatar-based envoys of the Taliban insurgency in a bid to end Afghanistan’s 17-year- war.
An Interior Ministry spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi, said a magnetic improvised explosive device was used in the attack Monday and victims were mostly staff members at the Afghan Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility.
The attack came a day after three separate bomb blasts in Kabul killed at least two people and injured 24 others. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying they caused 33 casualties among Afghan Shi’ites, journalists and security forces.
Monday’s violence came shortly after the United Nations called on Taliban insurgents and U.S.-backed Afghan security forces to cease hostilities to allow Afghans to commemorate the Eid celebration.
“I strongly urge all parties to the conflict to stop violence and to respect this time of reflection and tolerance so that everybody in Afghanistan can enjoy Eid peacefully,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, who heads the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The Taliban and the Afghan government had both observed their own cease-fires during last year’s Eid festivities. It is not clear, however, whether the insurgent group would stop violence in response to cease-fire calls by Kabul and U.S. officials.
Afghan battlefield hostilities, as expected, have intensified during the summer fighting season. Local watchdog groups have documented more than 2,300 casualties in May, including 1,317 deaths. The victims included combatants and Afghan civilians.
The conflict-related violence has already killed around 500 combatants on both sides since the start of June, according to figures released by the Afghan Defense Ministry and the Taliban, although both often inflate battlefield claims.