U.S. Sees ‘Tremendous Potential’ for Peace Talks Between Afghanistan, Taliban

Seven attackers killed as Afghan forces stave off major terror bid

Militants launched a gun and bomb attack on the interior ministry in Kabul on Wednesday, killing a policeman in the latest chilling demonstration of their ability to strike at the heart of the Afghan capital.

Ten assailants attacked the ministry after an explosives-laden vehicle detonated at the front gate of the compound, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

Gen Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said seven attackers were killed and that cleanup operations were underway in the attack that left one cop injured as well - implying that the attack was majorly thwarted.

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Gunmen wearing military uniforms and suicide vests stormed the heavily fortified Afghan Interior Ministry compound Wednesday, killing at least one police officer during a battle that lasted more than two hours, officials said.

The myriad attacks in the last 12 months included two of the deadliest in the city since the United States invasion: a truck bomb on May 31, 2017 that killed more than 150 people, and an ambulance bomb in January 27 this year which killed more than 100.

The attack on a meeting of commanders in the district of Musa Qala in Helmand, one of the heartlands of the Taliban insurgency, was a significant blow to the insurgents, said Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, spokesman for us forces in Afghanistan.

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Violence has sharply increased in recent weeks since the Taliban, which leads the insurgency against the Afghan government and US -led troops, announced its annual spring offensive. Sources also said police have not handed over the armored vehicles, used by the attackers, to the NDS for investigation.

Some Taliban leaders are participating in private talks with Afghanistan government officials to jumpstart peace talks, even as fighting endures in the 16-year war, the top US commander in the country said Wednesday. He said all three were shot and killed by security forces within minutes of the initial attack, adding that a number of nearby homes were damaged.

The Taliban denied the USA military's account, calling it "propaganda" and claiming that the strike hit two civilian houses, resulting in the deaths of five civilians. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

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Both the Taliban and ISIL have stepped up attacks on Kabul, making it the deadliest place in the country for civilians in recent months.

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