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Audacious attack on Afghan Defence Minister shows Taliban is not interested in talks

A Taliban attack (Photo: IANS)

A daring bomb attack on the Afghan Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi killed eight people and wounded at least 20. The bomb blast and the firing took place on Tuesday night in a heavily guarded Kabul neighbourhood.

At least four militants were killed in the gun battle. Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirwais Stanekzai said on Wednesday that the toll could rise. He added that Mohammadi was targeted in the attack but he was not hurt.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack. Its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that it was revenge for recent attacks by the Afghan national forces in various provinces which has led to civilian casualties and displacement.

The attack took place in the posh Sherpur neighborhood, located in the capital's Green Zone, which also houses senior government officials and diplomats. Special Forces rushed to the area to ward off the gunmen who had entered the minister's villa. Residents were moved out to safety as troops carried out house-to-house searches.

Assuring the people, Mohammadi tweeted: "Do not worry, everything is fine!"

People came out of their homes to celebrate–an attempt to to show solidarity with the besieged Afghan defence forces. In many other cities, people are supporting the Afghan government and the troops in defiance of the Taliban which has been making advances in different parts of the country.

People who had thought that the Taliban would have turned over a new leaf are disappointed. Upon seizing new areas in the countryside and in towns, the militants have ordered residents to follow Islamic rules properly. They have banned women from coming out of homes unescorted, have stopped men from shaving their beards and have killed people suspected of being informers.

The Taliban was emboldened to launch attacks on Afghan troops and policemen after it became clear that the US was keen on pulling out of the country. In recent advances, the Taliban has claimed that it has seized most of the border crossings in the landlocked country. The Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani has scoffed at the Taliban claims.

The rise of the Taliban has also widened the rift between Afghanistan and its eastern neighbour Pakistan–which has been supporting the militants by providing shelter, giving them arms training and providing weapons.