Powerful explosion in Afghan capital Kabul; many hurt

Powerful Explosion Rocks Afghanistan Near U.S. Embassy

In apparent response to a series of attacks by Afghan forces, the Taliban staged suicide operations in four Humvees on government buildings in southern Kandahar on Sunday, killing dozens of security forces and eight election workers.

About 100 wounded people were taken to hospital, said health ministry spokesperson Wahidullah Mayar, but there was no immediate word of fatalities.

It comes two days after a USA special envoy began a seventh round of talks with the militant group in Qatar, aiming to bring an end to the 18-year war.

The blast hit a densely populated area surrounding the ministry of defense, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

The rush-hour explosion sent a plume of smoke into the air above the Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of the Afghan capital and shook buildings up to two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, with an AFP reporter saying he could hear gunshots after the blast.

Mohammad Karim, a police official in the area of the attack, said a vehicle bomb exploded outside a defence ministry building. "We don't know if the attackers have entered the building", he said. The spokesman put the confirmed death toll at one, but ministry officials said at least 34 people were killed. Some players were injured by glass and taken to hospitals, the federation said.

A truck loaded with explosives was detonated near the ministry's engineering department, a security official said.

Afghanistan's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, tweeted that the "terrorist" attack near the Afghan Football Federation building showed the "inherent criminal nature" of the group.

The U.S. Embassy in a statement condemned "Taliban's latest brutal attacks against fellow Afghans".

Shams Amini, a spokesman for the Afghan Football Federation, told AFP that the blast occurred near their headquarters gates, and said some colleagues had been injured.

Officials from the United Nations office in Afghanistan gave blood to help the injured children and urged others to do the same. The Taliban have carried out scores of attacks in Kabul, mostly targeting Afghan and USA military installations or convoys. Pakistan's foreign minister promised to support the peace process, while Mr Ghani praised Pakistan's role in the effort.

Today's brazen attack takes place at a time that the US-Taliban talks entered their third day in the Gulf state of Qatar where the two sides are struggling to reach to some type of deal on a number of key issues under debate, including the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, counterterrorism assurances, a ceasefire, and intra-Afghan talks.

A key sticking point is the Taliban's refusal to negotiate with the Afghan government, who they see as puppets of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition.

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