KABUL: A suicide attack at a wrestling club in a Shia neighbourhood of the Afghan capital Kabul and a second explosion apparently targeting emergency services and journalists killed at least 20 people and wounded 70 on Wednesday, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in Dasht-e-Barchi, home to many members of the mainly Shia Muslim Hazara ethnic minority which has been targeted in the past by Sunni militants of the so-called Islamic State.
Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said the second explosion hit as police were helping victims and a number of journalists were at the site.
A reporter and a cameraman from Afghanistan’s largest broadcaster, Tolo News, were killed in the second blast and four other local television crew were wounded, according to NAI, a group supporting open media in Afghanistan.
The explosion came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalizad, would be appointed as an adviser to help with efforts to end the conflict.
Hopes of possible peace talks with the Taliban were fuelled by a brief ceasefire in June, although intense fighting in the months since has dampened optimism.
11 of Haqqanis arrested
Eleven members of the Haqqani militant network have been arrested in Kabul, the Afghan intelligence agency said on Wednesday, a day after the announcement of the death of the group’s founder.
Afghan special forces arrested the militants in Kabul city and nearby districts, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement. They are suspected of involvement in bombings and targeted killings of government employees and “influential figures”, the NDS said.
A large quantity of explosives and munitions were seized in the operation, it added, without saying when the militants were arrested.
The statement comes a day after the Taliban announced the death of the Haqqani network’s founder Jalaluddin Haqqani. It did not say when he died.
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018