Multiple Rockets Hit Afghan Capital

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KABUL — Fighting broke out in Kabul just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban a three-month ceasefire. Tags: Afghanistan, rockets

Multiple rockets hit near the diplomatic area in the Afghan capital Kabul early Tues­day, as officials said fighting had broken out between security forces and militants in the city’s old quarter.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, which came just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban a three-month ceasefire.

Military helicopters were firing above the Eidgah Mosque in Reka Khana district, where smoke was rising as police and the in­terior ministry said clashes were underway, amid a heavy security presence near the Ka­bul Stadium.

“This morning a group of terrorists took over a building in Reka Khana and fired sev­eral rockets towards Kabul,” interior minis­try spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.

“Two people have been wounded. Secu­rity forces are fighting the terrorists.”

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stan­ikzai confirmed that fighting was underway near the mosque, and said he could not con­firm casualties yet.

“Police have cordoned off the area,” he said.

Ghani unveiled the government’s latest ceasefire gambit during an Independence Day address late Sunday, saying security forces would observe the truce beginning this week — but only if the militants recipro­cated.

The truce offer was welcomed by the United States and NATO after nearly 17 years of war, but the Taliban have yet to respond.

The move followed an extraordinarily vi­olent week in Afghanistan that saw that Tali­ban storm the provincial capital of Ghazni – just a two-hour drive from Kabul – and press the fight against security forces across the country, with estimates suggesting hundreds

Taliban release 160 civilians but keep at least 20 others captive

The Taliban released more than 160 civilian pas­sengers a day after they were kidnapped from three buses in northern Afghanistan but kept at least 20 soldiers and police­men as captives, an official said on Tuesday.

Nearly 200 passengers were taken as hostages by Taliban insurgents near the northern province of Kunduz on Monday as they traveled to the capital, Kabul.

“More than 160 civilians have reached home safely but at least 20 soldiers and policemen have been taken to an undisclosed location by the Taliban,” said Ghulam Ra­bani Rabani, a provincial council member in Kunduz.

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