KABUL: A powerful explosion followed by sporadic gunfire hit Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Tuesday near the city’s heavily fortified “Green Zone,” an area that is home to government buildings and foreign embassies, police officials said.
At least three people were killed and seven wounded, said Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, adding that the fighting continues.
A senior security official said the explosion appeared to have been caused by a car bomb and that the apparent target was the residence of a member of parliament.
Two armed men were still in the area and clashed with Afghan security forces, the official said. Several homes belonging to Afghan officials, lawmakers and prominent residents were under siege in the ongoing clashes, residents said.
The city’s Emergency Hospital said in a tweet that it had so far received six people injured in the attack.
Neither group immediately claimed responsibility.
Minutes after the explosion, hundreds of civilians in Kabul took to the streets and chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) to express their support for the Afghan government forces and their opposition to the Taliban.
The night march spread across the city with most men and some women joining the demonstrations, carrying candles and Afghan flags to signal the united opposition to the hard-line Islamist group. “The whole world can choose to remain silent about what is happening in Afghanistan, but we cannot and we will not remain silent anymore, we will stand by our security forces until our last breath,” said a protester in Kabul. on condition of anonymity.
Last week, residents of western Herat braved the streets despite close fighting to protest against the Taliban. Other cities quickly organized to join in the chant from their homes at night, as a message of support for the embattled security forces.
Clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban have escalated across the country and the insurgent group has gained control of checkpoints, trading posts and infrastructure projects.
Afghan forces called on residents of the southern city of Lashkargah to leave their homes and stay away from the areas where the Taliban were taking control as they intend to launch operations against the group.
The Taliban said its fighters in Kabul killed a district governor of central Maidan Wardak province on Tuesday, the latest in a series of killings carried out by the insurgent group with the aim of eliminating top government officials and social activists.