A bombing attack that targeted Afghanistan’s acting defense minister killed at least eight people and wounded 20, authorities said Wednesday. The deputy minister was not hurt in the attack claimed by Taliban insurgents.
The blast went off late Tuesday in a heavily guarded upscale neighborhood of the capital of Kabul. It was followed by a gun battle that also left four militants dead, authorities said.
The casualty toll could rise, Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirwais Stanekzai said Wednesday.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement Wednesday claimed responsibility for the attack. It came as the insurgent group presses ahead with an offensive that is putting pressure on provincial capitals in the south and west of the country.
Mujahid said the attack was revenge for recent attacks by Afghan national forces in various provinces that he said caused civilian casualties and displacement.
Stanekzai said it appeared the guesthouse of acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was targeted in the attack but he was not hurt.
Mohammadi’s Jamiat-e-Islami party was told the minister was not in the guesthouse at the time and his family had been safely evacuated.
All four attackers were shot and killed after five hours of fighting, Stanekzai said.
Stanekzai said the attack took place in the posh Sherpur neighborhood, located in a section of the capital known as the Green Zone, where security is tight. It is home to several senior government officials.
Hours after Tuesday night’s attack, the Defense Ministry released a video in which Mohammadi said his guards had been wounded in a suicide attack. “I assure my beloved countrymen that such attacks cannot have any impact on my willingness to defend my countrymen and my country,” he said.
Hundreds of residents in the area were moved to safety as security personnel carried out house-to-house searches, officials said.