Suicide bombing shatters relative calm in Kabul, killing six

After months of relative calm in the Afghan capital, a suicide bombing Tuesday morning outside a military academy left at least six dead and 12 wounded, according to the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

Bombings in Kabul have dropped off in recent months as peace talks between the United States and Taliban insurgents have reached a critical stage. In addition, large-scale military operations in the country’s east have disrupted the extremist Islamic State group’s ability to plan and carry out attacks.

The military academy in Kabul that was attacked Tuesday has been the target of attacks in the past claimed by the Islamic State. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest attack.

Two civilians and four military personnel were among the dead, the ministry said in a statement. Afghan security forces cordoned off the area, and ambulances rushed in and out to evacuate casualties.

The demand for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan has become central to now-stalled peace talks between the United States and the Taliban.

Taliban negotiatiors have offered a plan to reduce violence, but their U.S. counterparts have not yet formally resumed talks.

The last round of formal talks was “paused” in December by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad following a complex Taliban attack on the U.S. military base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

On Sunday, Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Qatar, where talks have been held, said Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives and Qatar’s foreign minister to discuss “some important issues on the results of the negotiations and the next moves,” according to a statement posted to Twitter.

The last large-scale attack in Kabul happened in November, when a car bomb killed 13 and wounded 20. The bombing appeared to target a private security firm, but many of the dead were children. No group claimed responsibility.

An estimated 157,000 people have been killed in Afghan war since 2001, according to the Afghanistan Papers.