Attacks on British contractors’ compound in Kabul kill at least 10

Car bomb and shootings come hours after Afghanistan’s president outlines peace plans

An injured man receives medical care at Wazir Akbar Khan hospital after a car bomb blast in Kabul. Photograph: Jawad Jalali/EPA

An injured man receives medical care at Wazir Akbar Khan hospital after a car bomb blast in Kabul. Photograph: Jawad Jalali/EPA

 

Gunmen attacked a British security contractors’ compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 19 only hours after President Ashraf Ghani outlined plans for peace in Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which started when a car bomb exploded outside a facility of the G4S security group on the main road leading out of Kabul towards eastern Afghanistan.

“A number of gunmen entered the G4S compound right after the car bomb,” said an interior ministry spokesman.

A complex attack on a well-protected site underlines how insecure Kabul remains despite efforts by the United States and the Afghan government to open peace talks with the Taliban to end more than 17 years of war.

“It is unfortunate and events like this bolster our resolve for peace,” Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib told reporters at the sidelines of a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, where Mr Ghani repeated calls for peace with the Taliban.

The insurgents’ main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the attack had caused heavy casualties and had been launched in retaliation for casualties caused by security forces in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.

Embassy guards

G4S, one of the world’s biggest security groups, is one of a number of foreign security contractors operating in Afghanistan and provides guards for the area around the British embassy.

“We can confirm that there has been an incident at one of our locations in Kabul. The situation is ongoing and we are co-ordinating with Afghan authorities to bring it to a conclusion,” a statement from G4S said.

An official from the public health ministry said at least 10 bodies and 19 wounded had been taken to city hospitals but with clearance operations still going on late into the night, there was no definitive casualty figure.

“There was a bang and right after that, all the windows and ceiling collapsed over the children. All of the doors were shattered,” said Hafizullah, a father who had brought three children to a city hospital. The children were wounded in a house near the contractors’ compound.

Efforts to open talks with the insurgents have picked up following the appointment of US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad earlier this year, but the violence that kills thousands every year has continued. – Reuters