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KABUL: Armed men attacked a British security contractors’ compound in Kabul on Wednesday, killing 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 Najib Danish, 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 Ghani repeated calls for peace with the Taliban.

The Taliban’s 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.

The 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 an area around the British embassy in the Afghan capital.

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

An official from the public health ministry said 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 man who had brought his three children to a city hospital. The children were wounded in a house near the contractors’ compound.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2018

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