Taliban Attack NGO Office in Afghan Capital, 9 Wounded

The Taliban attacked the offices of an international NGO in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, 8 May, setting off a huge explosion and battling Afghan security forces in an assault that wounded at least nine people, officials said.

Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Mayar said that at least nine Afghans were wounded in the attack. It was not immediately clear if any foreigners had been wounded. A large plume of smoke rose from the area and the sound of sporadic gunfire could be heard.

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The attack targeted an international aid group called Counterpart International, which has offices near those of the Afghan attorney general, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group attacked the organisation because it was involved in "harmful Western activities" inside Afghanistan, without elaborating.

The insurgents stage near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, even as peace efforts have accelerated to find an end to the country's 17-year war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called for peace with the Taliban last week and promised to free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began Monday.

The Taliban said they would continue their attacks during Ramzan, but would be "very careful of civilians during any operation."

The insurgents have rejected past cease-fire proposals, saying US and NATO troops must withdraw from the country first. The Taliban also refuse to negotiate directly with the government in Kabul, seeing it as a US puppet.

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