Kabul: Several people were killed and wounded in an explosion that rocked central Kabul during rush hour Tuesday morning, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani said.
According to Afghan media, at least 24 people died, and 161 were injured in the attack that apparently targeted the offices of Afghanistan`s central security agency. A massive firefight the explosion occurred in a densely populated neighborhood.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which sent clouds of acrid smoke billowing into the sky and shook the windows of several miles was attributed.
It should be noted that the explosion came a week after the Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive.
“The first explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and possibly one or two attackers are still resisting,” the Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.
“The site of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said his fighters had managed to enter the office of the National Directorate of Security, the central Afghan intelligence agency.
Afghan authorities did not confirm that claim, but heavy gunfire was heard near the resort of NDS. The Taliban are known to exaggerate claims of the battlefield.
“Today día` terrorist attack near Puli Mahmood Khan area of Kabul city demonstrates the apparent defeat of the enemy in the fight face to face against Afghan security forces,” the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement on Twitter.
The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday announced the start of their “spring offensive” even if the government in Kabul seeks to bring the rebels back to the negotiating table to end its endless conflict.
The Taliban warned they would “employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country” during the offensive called Operation Omari in honor of the late founder Mullah Omar movement`s, whose death was announced last year.
The insurgents began fighting season last week by the orientation of the northern city of Kunduz, which briefly captured last year in a stunning setback for Afghan forces.
However, officials said the Afghan security forces led Taliban fighters back from the city on Friday.
The annual spring offensive typically marks the start of the “fighting season”, although this winter calm was shorter and continued to battle government forces, although with less intensity.
The Taliban`s resurgence has raised serious doubts about the Afghan forces` ability to maintain its position, with an estimated 5,500 soldiers killed last year, the worst of all toll.
Peace talks that began last summer stopped abruptly after it was revealed that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died two years.
A group of four countries comprising Afghanistan, the United States, China, and Pakistan has been holding meetings since January negotiations to help start, but their efforts have so far been in vain.