KABUL, Afghanistan — Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s senior vice chairman and a staunch opponent of the Taliban, survived a bombing that focused his convoy within the capital on Wednesday, the second deadly attack towards him in a bit of over a 12 months.
At the least 10 bystanders had been killed and 15 different folks had been wounded by a bomb that had been planted on the aspect of the street, Afghanistan’s inside ministry mentioned. Images from the blast web site, a crowded roundabout in Kabul with mechanic outlets and crockery shops, confirmed huge carnage.
Rizwan Murad, a spokesman for Mr. Saleh, mentioned “two or three” of the vice chairman’s guards had been wounded.
Mr. Saleh, a former spy chief who turned one of many nation’s two vice presidents early this 12 months, appeared shaken in a video message from his workplace about two hours after the assault, his proper hand bandaged. He mentioned he and his son Ebadullah, a school scholar who was with him within the automotive as he headed to work within the morning rush hour, had suffered slight burns.
“My hand is wounded, because the explosion wave was sturdy and the automotive window melted,” Mr. Saleh mentioned. “The scenario that has come on me at this time comes on our safety forces every single day, each hour.”
The Taliban denied that they had been behind the blast, and no group instantly claimed accountability.
The insurgents signed a deal with the United States in February on a withdrawal of American troops, with the understanding that the Taliban would cease bombing city facilities. However Afghan officers say they’ve continued to hold out assaults with out claiming accountability for them, exploiting an advanced scenario during which violence can be perpetrated by an Islamic State offshoot, in addition to organized crime gangs.
In July of final 12 months, simply hours after Mr. Saleh declared his candidacy for the vice presidency, he barely survived an attack on his office that killed about 20 of his closest aides, together with members of the family. A squad of suicide bombers first set off a automotive bomb exterior, then fought their manner up the steps to the fourth-floor workplace the place Mr. Saleh was holding conferences. They gunned down a lot of his aides and friends; after hours of preventing, Mr. Saleh managed to flee by climbing a ladder to a neighbor’s roof.
The blast focusing on Mr. Saleh on Wednesday got here as remaining preparations had been underway in Doha, the capital of Qatar, for direct negotiations between the Taliban and a gaggle of presidency and opposition officers on ending the battle in Afghanistan, which in some form or kind has dragged on for greater than 40 years. The talks had been initially anticipated to start quickly after the February deal between the USA and the Taliban, however they’ve been delayed for months due to disagreements over a prisoner swap.
The federal government has been reluctant to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for 1,000 members of its safety forces, an settlement that the insurgents reached with United States in talks that didn’t embody the Afghan authorities. However after a lot stress from the Trump administration over the previous six months, the prisoner swap is sort of full, eradicating the ultimate hurdle to the upcoming talks.
Particulars are being sorted out relating to the final batch of prisoners, a few half-dozen males who had been convicted of assaults on troops from France, Australia and the USA. As a result of all three international locations oppose their launch — together with the USA, regardless of its total push for the discharge of Taliban prisoners — they are going to be despatched to Qatar underneath a type of home arrest so the talks can start.
Mr. Saleh is seen as a detailed adviser and confidant of President Ashraf Ghani, taking part in a central position in strategizing for the Taliban talks and negotiating with the USA because it tries to section out its costly involvement in Afghanistan.
Mr. Ghani, who secured a second term in office early this 12 months in a disputed election, has been accused of making an attempt to delay the talks with the Taliban, at the same time as his authorities’s authority wanes within the face of an insurgency emboldened by its cope with the USA.
The insurgents have tightened their grip on Afghanistan’s highways and are accused of finishing up a wave of assassinations in Kabul to extend stress on the federal government. On Tuesday, the Taliban carried out their first large-scale assault in almost twenty years within the northern province of Panjshir, which was the hub of resistance to the group when it managed about 90 % of Afghan territory within the 1990s.
The assault on Panjshir, which is Mr. Saleh’s residence province, got here 19 years to the day after the dying of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a politician and guerrilla commander who had led the resistance to the Taliban there. Mr. Massoud was killed by two Al Qaeda suicide bombers posing as journalists, two days earlier than the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults on the USA.
Mr. Saleh is hawkish in his opposition to the Taliban, describing them primarily as a proxy for the navy of neighboring Pakistan, which has served as a haven for a lot of the group’s senior management.
As vice chairman, he has generally toned down his opposition to the group, drawing a line between his public accountability and his private views. However he has mentioned that any cope with the Taliban ought to soak up them into the present democratic system, rejecting something that resembles a return to their time in energy, once they dominated with an iron fist and banned ladies from public life.
“Because the vice chairman, I don’t need to get in the way in which of peace,” Mr. Saleh mentioned final week in an interview with the Afghan channel ToloNews. “However as Amrullah Saleh, the person, and with the previous and beliefs that I’ve, I’m irreconcilable with the Taliban. It’s not potential for us to make peace, to work collectively.”
Fahim Abed contributed reporting.