Image: Republic World
Afghanistan's capital city Kabul was rocked by an explosion on Monday as a loud blast followed by gunshots were heard at a guest house. According to sources, the guest house located in the Shahr-e Naw area, is popular with Chinese visitors as it is one of the main commercial areas in Kabul. Reports of blast and gunfire were confirmed by the locals although no reports of casualties have been reported. It has been learned that the hotel is currently under the control of armed assailants. However, three of those assailants were eventually shot dead.
Three armed assailants who attacked a hotel catering to foreign visitors including Chinese nationals have been killed, said Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban government's spokesman.
According to the official, the attack which lasted several hours resulted in the injury to two foreign guests who jumped out of the windows to save themselves. Meanwhile, Khalid Zadran, spokesman for the Kabul police chief said that the 'clean-up' operation is underway. Moreover, a resident of the Shar-e Naw neighbourhood, on the condition of anonymity said that a gun battle is still going on.
Local security is also yet to release an official confirmation of the attack. Notably, the development comes just a few days after the Pakistan Taliban broke a ceasefire agreement with the Pakistani government and picked up weapons against the Shehbaz Sharif regime.
While no terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack, the role of Islamic State- Khorasan Province (ISKP) is being suspected. The ISKP is the regional affiliate of the Islamic State which was set up in 2015 during the peak period of the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
According to the BBC, it had as many as 3,000 fighters at its height and recruited men from both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Apart from being a nemesis of the Taliban, the ISKP has also targeted Afghan forces, politicians and religious minorities particularly Shia Muslims and Sikhs.
In the visuals that emerged from the site, a thick plume of smoke was seen emerging from the building which caught fire after the explosion. While the Taliban and ISKP are engaged in territorial war, the explosions in Kabul come just few days after China condemned the attack on Pakistan’s embassy earlier this month. “China strongly condemns and firmly opposes all forms of violence and terrorist acts”, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in a statement.
Notably, a Chinese ambassador also met with Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister just a day ago to discuss matters related to security. According to China's state-run Xinhua news agency, the Chinese embassy is closely monitoring the development regarding the blast. Meanwhile, the Taliban has seized the area where the attack took place and refused to reveal information about the attack.