At Least 50 Children Wounded In Taliban Attack On Kabul

Powerful Explosion Rocks Afghanistan Near U.S. Embassy

Afghan security forces killed five Taliban gunmen who stormed a building in Kabul on Monday after detonating a bomb-laden truck that wounded at least 105 people, including 51 children, officials said.

At least three gunmen entered a building around the defence ministry after the blast, a government security official said.

Authorities have not confirmed the target, but Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the area had been cordoned off by special forces who were "bringing down" the attackers, with at least two killed.

The seventh round of the USA and Taliban talks are ongoing in Doha, Qatar, amid an increase of violence by the insurgent group as they launched two complex attacks in Kabul and Kandahar in the past two days.

The blast outside a military compound in Kabul sent smoke billowing into the air and shook buildings more than a mile away, before gunmen apparently special forces nearby.

There was no word on fatalities but officials said more than 30 children were among the dozens injured.

The heavily-secured neighbourhood is home to some military and government buildings, including one shared by Afghanistan's intelligence agency and defence ministry, as well as the Afghan Football Federation and the Afghan Cricket Board.

The country's football federation and a private school were also hit by the blast.

But, a Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet on Monday that the group will engage in intra-Afghan talks once an agreement is sealed with the United States on troop withdrawal.

Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said the attack showcased the Taliban's "inherent criminal nature", and promised to "pursue and punish the miscreants".

"Some of our colleagues are trapped inside, we have reports of some injuries".

Smoke rises from the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan July 1, 2019.

Pakistan condemned Monday's attack, saying "such attacks are detrimental to the cause of peace, security and stability in Afghanistan".

The talks have so far centred on four issues - counter-terrorism, the foreign troop presence, an intra-Afghan dialogue and a permanent ceasefire.

"We strongly condemn the Taliban's latest brutal attack against fellow [Afghans]", the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

The attack came as the USA was set to begin a third day of negotiations with the militants in Doha.

The Taliban, driven from power by the US -led invasion in 2001, controls large swaths of Afghanistan's territory.

The Taliban have refused to hold talks with the Afghan government, calling it a US puppet, and have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan forces.

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