IS claims Afghan bus attack; civilians killed in new clashes

The Islamic State group has taken responsibility for a deadly roadside bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The Islamic State group took responsibility Sunday for a deadly roadside bombing against a bus belonging to a local TV station in the Afghan capital, while renewed fighting in nearby provinces killed at least seven civilians, including a woman and several children.

In a statement on an IS-affiliated website, the group said Saturday’s attack in Kabul targeted a bus carrying employees of Khurshid TV, a station it described as “loyal to the Afghan apostate government.”

Two employees were killed and four wounded, said Marwa Amini, the Interior Ministry deputy spokeswoman. Two of the wounded were in critical condition Sunday, said Mohammad Rafi Sediqi, an official at the station.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State are active in Kabul. IS has claimed recent attacks on civilian targets, while the Taliban has taken responsibility for attacking military targets. IS has been increasingly active in Afghanistan after suffering battlefield losses in recent months to government and U.S. forces, as well as its Taliban rivals.

Another roadside bomb exploded in Kabul on Sunday as a police patrol was passing by, wounding three civilians, said Tariq Arian, the Interior Ministry spokesman. No one immediately claimed responsibly for the blast.

The attacks come after a truce expired between the Taliban and Afghan security forces for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ended Tuesday. The Taliban have claimed only one attack since then, and neither the Taliban insurgents nor the government appear to want a return to all-out fighting.

However, renewed violence elsewhere in the country killed at least seven civilians on Saturday, officials said.

A mortar shell fired by Afghan forces killed at least four civilians when it hit a home in Maidan Wardak province, said Wahidullah Akberzia, a provincial council member. He said the Afghan convoy had come under attack from the village late Saturday and fired back, resulting in the civilian deaths, which included a woman and three children.

Local civilians protested the killings by carrying the bodies to the governor’s office on Sunday “to demand justice from the government,” Akberzia said, adding that two children had also been wounded. Maidan Wardak province borders Kabul to the west.

Separately, at least three small children were killed Saturday when a mortar shell hit their home in Parwan province, said Wahida Shahkar, a spokeswoman for the provincial governor.

Shahkar blamed the Taliban for the attack, but the Taliban denied involvement. Parwan province lies just north of the capital.

In an apparent effort to resuscitate the flagging peace agreement signed between the U.S. and Taliban in February, hundreds of Taliban prisoners were released by the government last week, and the Taliban made a reciprocal release of government personnel. The exchange of prisoners was seen as a goodwill gesture before the start of intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul’s political leadership.