On this 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, a rocket has exploded near the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Roughly an hour after the explosion local officials gave the all-clear and stated there were no injuries that resulted from the blast. The nearby NATO mission also reported no injuries.
Chaos erupted as sirens sang in the night while embassy employees were notified “An explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on compound.”
The plume of smoke that rose over central Kabul was a sign of the first major action in Kabul since U.S. – Taliban peace talks crumbled on Monday with President Trump announcing that the talks were “dead.”
Over the weekend, Trump abruptly canceled planned meetings with Afghan and Taliban leaders at Camp David. The Taliban had claimed responsibility for two car bombings last week, one of which killed an American soldier.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Al Jazeera that Trump would regret turning his back on peace talks. “We had two ways to end the occupation in Afghanistan. One was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations,” said Mujahid. “If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it.”
The 9/11 anniversary is a sensitive day in Afghanistan’s capital and one on which attacks have occurred. A U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harbored Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader and attacks mastermind.
In the nearly 18 years of fighting since then, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan soared to 100,000 and dropped dramatically after bin Laden was killed in neighboring Pakistan in 2011.
The now-defunct accords were said to include the withdrawal of 14,000 U.S. troops through the end of 2020. In exchange, the Taliban would have had to agree not to allow Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorist groups which threaten the security of the U.S.
Last week’s bombings included an attack late Monday which killed 16 and injured 100, mostly civilians, and an attack Thursday which killed two soldiers and ten civilians.
The Taliban had said they issued the attacks to gain leverage in their negotiations with the U.S., demanding that all of the approximately 20,000 U.S. and NATO troops leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.
It was of course because of those attacks, in which one American soldier also died, that Trump decided to call the US-Taliban talks “dead”.
The Afghani government had been critical of any sort of peace agreement, largely because the Taliban had demanded Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani be shut out of the negotiations.
“Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless,” said Ghani last week. “Afghans have been bitten by this snake before,” added his advisor Waheed Omer.
Just before Trump’s announcement, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had completed two days of meetings in Qatar with Taliban lead negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller.