An explosion in the Afghan capital has killed several civilians and wounded dozens. The attack came after a US envoy briefed the government on a draft deal that would see thousands of US troops leave the country.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul on Monday evening that killed at least 16 people and wounded 119 more.
The explosion targeted the Green Village compound in the Afghan capital, which houses several international organizations, said Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi. Some 400 foreigners were rescued from the compound in the aftermath of the attack, he added.
"It was a horrifying explosion," said one witness, Wali Jan. The blast sent a plume of smoke into the sky and caused a gas station to burst into flames.
In claiming responsibility, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujadid told the Agence France-Presse news agency that an attack involving a suicide bomber and gunmen was underway. Rahimi said that five attackers were killed by security forces after a tractor rigged with explosives was detonated, hitting the western wall of the compound.
The Green Village was also struck by an attack in January.
On 'threshold' of a deal
The blast on Monday struck just as an interview with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was being aired on national television about a possible agreement with the insurgent group.
Khalilzad presented the draft agreement to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani earlier in the day, saying the two sides were "at the threshold of an agreement." The deal would see the US withdraw some 5,000 troops stationed at five bases across Afghanistan.
Khalilzad said the troop reduction would occur within around four months of a final deal being approved — if the Taliban stick to their commitments, including reducing violence.
US President Donald Trump would still need to approve the deal, which was hammered out during the latest round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
An estimated 20,000 US and NATO troops are currently stationed in the country, with the Taliban demanding all of the troops leave.
The Taliban currently control or have influence over around half of the country. They have increased attacks across the country in recent months, including attempting to seize the cities of Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri over the weekend.
rs, kw/ng (AP, AFP)