KABUL, Afghanistan—A blast near the office of Afghanistan’s main security agency wounded three people on Aug. 4, hours after a bomb and gun attack on a minister’s compound brought surging Taliban violence to Kabul, the country’s capital city.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the late Aug. 3 car bomb and gun attack on the home of acting Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi. The was no immediate claim for the Aug. 4 blast.
While Mohammadi survived the attack on his compound in a heavily fortified part of Kabul, the violence was a stark illustration of the deterioration in Afghanistan’s security as U.S.-led foreign forces complete their withdrawal and the insurgents seize swaths of territory.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said his group targeted the minister’s residence as an important meeting was underway there.
Government forces battled the attackers for more than four hours, and the Ministry of Interior said that at least eight civilians were killed and 20 were wounded.
The Aug. 4 explosion near a facility of the National Directorate of Security wounded two civilians and a security official, police said.
The Taliban has stepped up its campaign to defeat the U.S.-backed government since April, as foreign forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.
Fighting has been particularly heavy around the city of Herat, near the western border with Iran, and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar in the southern portion of the country.
An Afghan military spokesman said an emergency had been declared in Lashkar Gah, and government forces were getting reinforcements and U.S. air support.
“Special forces have been sent to the area. They are in good morale,” armed forces spokesman Gen. Ajmal Omar Shinwari told Reuters.
The loss of Lashkar Gah would be a huge blow for the government, which has pledged to defend strategic centers after losing many rural districts to the Taliban in recent months.
Scores of families have fled from their homes in the small city, which serves as the capital of the Helmand Province, as government forces launched a counterattack against the Taliban.
The U.N. reported on Aug. 3 that at least 40 civilians had been killed in Lashkar Gah in the previous 24 hours.
Taliban fighters had taken control of some radio and TV stations in the city and were moving into homes to stop people from helping government forces, residents said.
By Kabul bureau