Rocket attack in Kabul by Islamic State kills 8

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for deadly rocket attacks on Saturday on the Afghan capital that left at least eight people dead.

In a statement on its Telegram channels, IS said 28 Katyusha rockets fired by “soldiers of the caliphate” hit Kabul’s heavily fortified Green Zone that houses “the presidential palace, embassies of Crusader states, and the headquarters of Afghan forces”.

Mortar shells slammed into different parts of the Afghan capital on Saturday, also wounding 31 others, an Afghan official said. The shells were fired from two cars, interior ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said. At least one rocket landed in the Iranian embassy compound.

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in recent months with increasingly horrific attacks often claimed by the Islamic State group affiliate. The Taliban have also continued near daily assaults on beleaguered Afghan government forces.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo met negotiators from the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha on Saturday, amid signs of progress in their talks as Washington speeds up its withdrawal.

“I would be most interested in getting your thoughts on how we can increase the probability of a successful outcome”, Pompeo said as he met the Afghan government side, noting the shared interest in such a scenario.

The Afghan government and the Taliban are “very close” to breaking a deadlock in peace talks, a senior Afghan official said Saturday, adding that the US troops military presence was still necessary.

“We are close, we are very close,“ said Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation.

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