A large blast rocked central Kabul on Wednesday, officials confirmed, sending a plume of black smoke over the city in the latest explosion to hit the war-torn city and as Afghanistan observes the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “I can confirm an explosion in the Shar-e-Naw area of Kabul. We are checking the details,” Ferdaws Framurz, a spokesman for the city’s police force, told AFP.
Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the explosion happened near the offices of CARE International, an NGO with operations in Afghanistan. “We don’t know the nature of the explosion yet but small arms firing has also been heard in the area,” Rahimi added.
The blast comes as the US and Taliban representatives continue negotiations in Qatar aimed at bringing an end to the nearly 18-year-old conflict.
The talks follow a massive peace summit in Kabul last week where President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban a ceasefire to begin on the first day of Ramadan, but the insurgents refused.
The Taliban have rebuffed repeated calls to halt fighting over the last year as they seek to gain leverage at the negotiating table by pressing the fight on the battlefield.
Last year the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire at the end of Ramadan after Ghani declared a unilateral truce for eight days earlier in the month.
It was first formal nationwide ceasefire since the US-led invasion of 2001 and saw unprecedented scenes of reconciliation and jubilation across the country.