Tuesday, August 21, 2018 12:16:51 PM
Militants Raid Area Near Kabul

Afghan security forces are engaged in intense fighting with militants, who have attacked an area near the capital, Kabul, officials say.

“This morning, a group of terrorists took over a building in Reka Khana and fired several rockets toward Kabul,” Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said on Tuesday.

“Two people have been wounded. Security forces are fighting the terrorists,” he added.

Reports said that military helicopters were firing above the Eidgah Mosque in the city’s old quarter, where smoke could be seen rising.

A heavy security presence was also reported near the Kabul Stadium in the same area.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said multiple rockets had been fired at at least two areas of Kabul, and confirmed that clashes were underway near the mosque.

He said he could not confirm any casualties yet.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

A security official said some of the missiles fell near the presidential palace, where Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was making a speech marking the first day of the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday.

The attack comes two days after Ghani offered the Taliban militant group a three-month ceasefire. The Taliban rejected that offer, saying they would continue their attacks in the country.

“There are groups that continue the violence; and with firing of rockets, they cannot stop the people of Afghanistan’s development,” Ghani commented on the rocket attacks.

Not long after the attack started, Afghan officials announced that the Taliban militant group had freed 160 civilians who had been kidnapped elsewhere, in northern Afghanistan, on Monday but were keeping at least 20 others captive.

Taliban militants abducted passengers traveling on three buses — almost 200 people — near the northern Afghan province of Kunduz on Monday.

“More than 160 civilians have reached home safely but at least 20 soldiers and policemen have been taken to an undisclosed location by the Taliban,” said Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member in Kunduz.

The Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 following a US-led invasion. That war, which continues to this day, has failed to bring stability to the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign forces.

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