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KABUL: At least 10 civilians lost their lives in consecutive explosions in a Shiite-dominated area of the Afghan capital, Kabul, while other parts of the country suffered a power outage after power pylons exploded during of a separate incident, officials said Wednesday.
The first explosion, which took place Tuesday evening, targeted a minibus in southwest Kabul, near the residence of Mohammed Mohaqiq, an adviser to President Ashraf Ghani, killing six people on board.
“This was followed by a second explosion in another part of the capital, this time on a vehicle carrying civilians, killing four people,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told Arab News.
Both explosions were carried out using sticky bombs, a standard device deployed in most strikes in Kabul and the eastern city of Jalalabad for more than a year in the latest sign of growing insecurity under the ongoing withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from the country.
In a statement Wednesday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, flatly denied the Taliban’s connection to the attacks.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s blasts, which occurred less than a month after nearly 100 people, mostly students, were killed in multiple blasts outside their school in the same neighborhood in Shiite majority of Dasht-e-Barchi.
The area where the blasts occurred is home to a large community of Shiites from the Hazara ethnic minority, which Daesh has targeted in the past.
The militant group has also claimed responsibility for carrying out attacks against Shiites in other parts of Afghanistan, including Kabul, in recent years.
As authorities analyzed the aftermath of Tuesday’s explosions, unknown assailants blew up a tower block in a government-controlled area in northern Kabul, cutting off power to several parts of the country.
“We don’t know when we can repair the pylon and restore power,” Sangar Niazai, spokesperson for the Afghan energy department, told Arab News.
There have been at least seven such attacks on electric towers in the past month, particularly in northern Kabul, stepping up pressure on the ailing government as it struggles to contain the Taliban’s military gains.
The group has seized strategic districts in several provinces, including near Kabul, since May 1, when Washington began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan.
The Taliban say it invaded military sites as hundreds of soldiers reportedly defected to join the group in critical areas, including Maidan Wardak provinces, eastern Laghman, northern Baghlan, Ghazni and Helmand.
“Those who came with their weapons belong to the army, the police and local activists. We welcomed them, ”Mujahid told Arab News.
However, the Interior Ministry spokesman said that while “government forces have carried out tactical retreats in some districts, we are present in those areas and the Taliban have suffered heavy casualties.”
Arian, along with Defense Ministry officials, declined to share the number of districts that had been overtaken by the Taliban or the number of Afghan forces that had joined the movement.
“Taliban attacks have focused on the roads leading to Kabul, cutting government supply lines and increasing pressure as the government faces challenges of demoralization, defections and scarcity of resources,” said an army general, on condition of anonymity. authorized to speak to the media, Arab News said.
Experts said, however, that the departure of foreign forces “deprived Kabul of crucial air support for attacking Taliban positions” and thus would allow militants to soon besiege more towns.
“While heads of government are locked in a power struggle, the Taliban’s strategy is to cut off the roads that serve as economic arteries, to put pressure on government forces, especially near Kabul, and to wait. other defections that would ultimately lead them to total victory or gain the upper hand in future peace negotiations, ”Kabul-based analyst Taj Mohammed told Arab News.
“This is the same tactic used by the Mujahedin forces against the old government after the forces of the Soviet Union withdrew from here in the 1990s,” he added.