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World

Four Afghan civil servants killed in rush-hour ambush

  • The surge in violence in recent months comes amid a deadlock in peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government.
09 Feb, 2021

KABUL: Militants shot dead four government employees in central Kabul Tuesday, police said, in the latest rush-hour violence to rock the capital as Afghanistan's spy agency said it had busted a "terrorist cell" involved in targeted killings.

The Afghan capital has seen near-daily attacks during the busy morning commute, targeting prominent figures including politicians, journalists, activists, judges, and religious scholars.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz told reporters that gunmen had opened fire on a vehicle carrying staff from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, killing four.

A separate attack saw the driver of a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs killed in a bombing in Kabul, police and the ministry said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Tuesday's killings came a day after three bomb blasts rattled the capital, leaving at least one person dead.

Afghan and US officials have blamed the Taliban for the wave of violence, although the group has rejected the charges.

Later on Tuesday, Afghanistan's spy agency said its forces had busted a six-member joint Islamic State-Haqqani network cell in Kabul.

"The Taliban, Daesh and Haqqani group are collaborating with each other to carry out bombings and targeted attacks," the agency said referring to IS with its Arabic name. It did specify when exactly the cell was apprehended.

Meanwhile, Afghan security forces carried out a ground and air operation against the Taliban in the restive eastern province of Nangarhar, officials said.

The operation was launched last week in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar, and so far 80 insurgents and their commanders had been killed, Afghan army commander Karim Niazi told reporters touring some areas of the district on Tuesday.

"The Taliban had control on these areas for more than eight years... but now our ground and air forces are beating them," he said.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

The surge in violence in recent months comes amid a deadlock in peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government.

Government negotiators are pushing for a permanent ceasefire, but the insurgents have so far dismissed calls for a truce.

The rise in violence has led US President Joe Biden's administration to launch a review of a deal signed between Washington and Taliban last year that paved the way for the withdrawal of all American troops in coming months.

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