Blast Heard Near US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 Anniversary

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
September 10, 2019 Updated: September 10, 2019

A large explosion rocked Afghanistan’s capital near the U.S. Embassy just minutes into Wednesday, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States.

A plume of smoke rose over Kabul just after midnight and sirens could be heard. Inside the embassy, employees heard this message over the loudspeaker: “An explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on compound.”

There was no immediate comment from Afghan officials or those with the NATO mission, which is also nearby.

It would be the first major attack in the Afghan capital since President Donald Trump abruptly called off U.S.-Taliban talks over the weekend, on the brink of an apparent deal to end America’s longest war.

Two Taliban car bombs shook Kabul last week, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission. Trump has cited the death of a U.S. service member in one of those blasts as the reason why he now calls the U.S.-Taliban talks “dead.”

“As far as I’m concerned, they are dead,” Trump told White House reporters on Monday, Sept. 9.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters
President Donald Trump talks to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House on Sept. 4, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Over the weekend, the president canceled the secret meeting, which was set to host Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders.

“They thought that they had to kill people to put themselves in a little better negotiating position,” Trump told reporters, calling the attack “a big mistake.”

He added: “You can’t do that. You can’t do that with me.”

The 9/11 anniversary is a sensitive day in Afghanistan’s capital and one on which attacks have occurred. A U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harbored Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and attacks mastermind.

In the nearly 18 years of fighting since then, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan soared to 100,000 and dropped dramatically after bin Laden was killed in neighboring Pakistan in 2011.

US soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Bulldog Troop, 1st Squadron
U.S. soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Bulldog Troop, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 91st U.S. Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based at Combat Outpost McClain operating under the NATO sponsored International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol in the area of Ahmadzi village in Muhammad Agah, Logar Province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 6, 2012. (Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/GettyImages)

Now about 14,000 U.S. troops remain and Trump has called it “ridiculous” that they are still in Afghanistan after so long and so many billions of dollars spent.

It is not clear whether the U.S.-Taliban talks will resume.

U.S. troops assess the damage to an armoured vehicle of NATO-led military coalition
U.S. troops assess the damage to an armored vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province, Afghanistan on Aug. 2, 2017. (Ahmad Nadeem/Reuters)

By Cara Anna

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.