Kabul, Aug 3 (EFE).- A Tuesday evening attack on Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi’s home in this capital triggered an hours-long gun battle that left at least eight dead – including the four assailants – and 11 wounded.
Mohammadi was not at home at the time and was unharmed.
“Initial information shows attackers were four, all killed,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai told Efe after the insurgent attack that began with a car-bomb blast.
In an earlier statement, Stanekzai confirmed the end of the fighting and the conclusion of a special forces “clearance operation,” adding that “Afghan security forces rescued several civilians from the site of the attack.”
At least 11 wounded individuals have been admitted thus far to a Kabul-based hospital run by the Milan, Italy-based humanitarian non-governmental organization Emergency, which said on Twitter that two of those people were treated inside the hospital’s out-patient department and four others were “already dead on arrival.”
The explosion took place around 8 pm in a residential neighborhood located in central Kabul, near the heavily fortified Green Zone, immediately prompting speculation that the Defense Ministry was the target.
Shortly after the car bomb detonated, Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman took to Twitter to announce that Gen. Mohammadi “is completely healthy.”
Muhammad Younus Qanuni, an Afghan former vice president and member of Mohammadi’s Jamiat-e-Islami party, said later in a statement that a “security incident” took place in a guest house belonging to the defense minister.
Mohammadi “was with me (at another place) during the incident,” Qanuni said. “The family members of the minister are also evacuated.”
Finally, the defense minister released a video message after the gun battle confirming that he and his family members were safe and unharmed and stating that “terrorists” had attacked his residence and injured several of his bodyguards.
“I assure you such incidents will not weaken my resolve in defense of my people and my country,” Mohammadi said.
The attack comes at a time of marked instability in Afghanistan, where the May 1 start of the definitive withdrawal of United States-led foreign forces from the country has triggered an unprecedented Taliban offensive.
In scenes similar to ones that played out Monday in the western city of Herat after special forces were deployed there to push back on the Taliban, thousands of people took to the streets or their terraces in Kabul to shout “Allah is great!” in a show of support for security forces’ efforts to halt the rapid advance of the insurgents.
The Taliban have captured around 125 district centers over the past three months, their biggest territorial gains in two decades of war, and now have their sights set on three provincial capitals: Kandahar and Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan and the western city of Herat.
Amid the deteriorating security situation, Afghanistan’s government said Tuesday ahead of upcoming meetings in Doha that it will seek to enlist strong support there from the international community with a view to achieving a political solution and an end to the war. EFE