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Wounded toll rises after blast at UK security firm in Kabul

War Conflict

AFP  |  Kabul 

A massive crater marked the spot where a vehicle bomb detonated outside a British security firm's compound in Kabul, killing at least 10 people, as the number of wounded rose Thursday to 29.

In the latest Taliban-claimed attack in the Afghan capital, militants detonated the bomb and then tried to fight their way into the compound housing G4S security company late Wednesday, authorities said.

"Five attackers were involved, one detonated his vehicle at the gate, and four others were on foot and they entered the building," interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.

He said the 10 dead were Afghans, but police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said authorities were still working to identify the nationalities of the victims.

G4S has not confirmed if any of its employees were among the dead, and the British embassy in Kabul has not yet made any statement.

Mujahid said foreigners were among the wounded, but did not give their nationalities.

An AFP photographer could see the shattered remains of a small van lying in the middle of the debris. Parts of nearby buildings in the industrial area of eastern Kabul were twisted by the violence of the blast.

One survivor, Abdul Mohammad, told AFP he and his nephew had just passed the compound when the bomb detonated.

"I lost consciousness but regained it in a few minutes," he told AFP from his hospital bed.

"I felt a lot of debris hitting us. I tried to pick my nephew up but couldn't do it... I realised he was dead."

"The ones in power are all betrayers and have made Afghanistan a battlefield," Rohullah Azimi, whose brother was among the wounded, added.

G4S, which according to its website provides security for British diplomats in Kabul, was also targeted in an attack in March, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives before reaching the entrance of the complex.

Two civilians were killed in that attack.

Wednesday's assault came hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the formation of a team for prospective peace talks with the Taliban, as the United Nations renewed calls for direct negotiations between Kabul and the insurgents.

The Afghan government, Western diplomats and UN officials have in recent weeks raised hopes of finally reaching a deal to end the 17-year war.

At an international conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, Ghani said the 12-person negotiating team includes both men and women and will be led by his chief of staff Abdul Salam Rahimi.

But the Taliban have once again rejected Ghani's overtures, saying in a statement Thursday that it considered the government in Kabul "impotent" and a "waste of time".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 17:15 IST