Death toll in Kabul attack rises to 43: health ministry

Raid on government building one of deadliest assaults in Afghan capital this year

Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan December 24, 2018.REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

An hours-long gun and suicide attack on a Kabul government compound killed at least 43 people, the health ministry said on Tuesday, making it one of the deadliest assaults on the Afghan capital this year.

Another 10 were wounded in Monday's raid on a site where the Ministry of Public Works and other offices are located, spokesman Waheed Majroh said.

Gunmen stormed the compound mid-afternoon after detonating a car bomb at the entrance, sending terrifying government workers running for their lives. Some jumped from the windows.

Hundreds more were trapped inside buildings as security forces swarmed the area, engaging in a fierce gun battle with the attackers.

It was the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a religious gathering last month, killing at least 55 people.

No one claimed responsibility but both the Taliban and the local ISIS affiliate have carried out brazen daytime attacks in the capital.

The attack came just hours after Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was in the Afghan capital to discuss ways of finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan's 17-year war. Mr Qureshi, who travelled to Iran from Kabul, condemned the attack.

Pakistan is taking part in the latest US effort to revive the peace process. It was Pakistan that helped orchestrate last week's talks in the United Arab Emirates. Representatives of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan and the United States attended those talks with the Taliban.

The latest violence comes just two days after US President Donald Trump announced half of the 14,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan would be withdrawn by the summer.


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