Bomb kills 2 rights workers in Kabul

Russia condemns claims it aided Taliban attacks on US troops

Agence France-Presse . Kabul | Published: 23:28, Jun 27,2020


Two employees of Afghanistan’s human rights body were killed in a bomb attack in Kabul on Saturday, the agency said.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said the pair died when a homemade ‘sticky bomb’ attached to their vehicle exploded in the morning.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramurz confirmed the attack, which has not been claimed by any group.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan condemned the killings.

‘There can be no justification for attacks against human rights defenders,’ it said on Twitter, calling for an immediate probe.

It comes less than a week after two prosecutors and three other employees from the attorney general’s office were shot dead by gunmen on the outskirts of Kabul.

On May 30, a television journalist was killed when a minibus carrying employees of private television channel Khurshid TV was hit by a roadside bomb in the city. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Violence had dropped across much of the country after the Taliban offered a brief ceasefire to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival last month, but officials say the insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent weeks.

Most attacks by the Taliban have targeted Afghan security forces, although there are regular police reports that civilians have been killed in roadside bomb blasts.

Meanwhile, Russia on Saturday denounced as ‘baseless’ and dangerous a newspaper report claiming that Moscow’s spies had offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill troops of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported Friday that bounties offered by a notorious arm of Russia’s military intelligence service gave incentives to fighters to target US forces, just as US president Donald Trump tries to withdraw troops and end America’s longest war.

The ‘baseless and anonymous accusations,’ published by the newspaper, had ‘already led to direct threats to the life of employees of the Russian Embassies in Washington DC and London,’ the Russian Embassy in Washington wrote on Twitter.

‘Stop producing #fakenews that provoke life threats, @nytimes,’ it added in a later tweet.

Russia has a tortured history in Afghanistan, where the former Soviet Union in its final years was bogged down in a devastating fight against Islamist guerrillas, then backed by Washington.

But Russia has more recently been accused by the United States of quietly providing small arms to the Taliban.

According to the newspaper, the Taliban operation was led by a unit known as the GRU, which has been blamed in numerous international incidents including a 2018 chemical weapons attack in Britain that nearly killed Russian-born double agent Sergei Skripal.

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