Taliban car bomb attack on Kabul police station kills 14 and wounds 145

The group moved quickly to claim responsibility for the blast, a day after it threatened to target election rallies

An Afghan policeman keeps watch near the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

The Taliban claimed a car bomb explosion on Wednesday outside a police station in the Afghan capital, Kabul, that killed at least 14 people and wounded 145 more, mostly civilians, including women and children.

The group moved quickly to claim responsibility for the blast, west of the city during morning rush hour, which sent grey smoke billowing into the sky. It comes a day after they threatened to attack election rallies ahead of next month's presidential vote.

The Taliban said a "recruitment centre" had been attacked by one of their suicide bombers.

"A large number of soldiers and police were killed or wounded," the Taliban said in a statement.

The bomb went off when a vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint outside the station, said interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

Ninety-five wounded people were taken to hospitals, mostly civilians, health ministry spokesman Dr Wahidullah Mayar said on Twitter.

According to video on social media and witnesses, small-arms fire could be heard following the blast.

A common insurgent tactic is to use a suicide bomber to hit a target and then follow up with gunmen storming the area.

There has been no let-up in violence in Afghanistan even though the Taliban and the United States appear close to a historic pact for US troops to withdraw in exchange for a Taliban promise the country would not be used to plot terrorist attacks.

Such attacks threaten any such agreement and analysts say they are used as pressuring tactics in negotiations, to show the other side what the group is capable of.

The Taliban, who have been staging near-daily attacks across the country, usually target Afghan forces and government officials or those seen as loyal to the government. On Tuesday, a bomb targeting a van carrying employees of the Interior Ministry's counter-narcotics division killed five people and wounded seven in Kabul.

ISIS's affiliate in Afghanistan, which has also been behind several large-scale attacks in Kabul, frequently targets minority Shiites.

Separately, security forces conducted raids on two ISIS militant hideouts in Kabul overnight and killed two militants and seized a large quantity of explosives and bomb-making equipment, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said.

Three members of the security forces were also killed, an agency spokesman said.

The militants control more territory than at any point since the United States bombed them out of power in 2001 and many government officials fear their war with the Taliban will not end if U.S. troops leave.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some US forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

President Donald Trump has announced his aim to end the war.

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