Rockets hit Kabul while Ghani holds Eid prayers


At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

There were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily forified palace grounds, said Mirwais Stanikzai, for the interior minister.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaq news channel.

Police quickly fanned out across the area. One car parked on a nearby street was completely destroyed. The police said it was used as launching pad for the rockets.

The palace is in the middle of a so-called green zone that is fortified with giant cement blast walls and barbed wire, and streets near the palace have long been closed off.

The barrage came as the US and NATO complete their final withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many Afghans are worried whether their country will fall deeper into chaos and violence as foreign forces withdraw and the Taliban gain more territory on the ground.

“This Eid has been named after Afghan forces to honor their sacrifices and courage, especially in the last three months,” Ghani said in his address to the nation following morning prayers for Eid al-Adha. “The Taliban have no intention and willingness for peace. We have proven that we have the intention, the willingness and have sacrificed for peace.”

However, Afghan forces have about being left without reinforcements and supplies, often running low food as the Taliban advanced. In many instances, Afghan troops surrendered rather than fight.

Washington’s watchdog monitoring US spending in Afghanistan reported that troops are deeply demoralised and corruption is rampant. After their pullout, the US and Nato are committed to spending $4 billion annually on Afghan forces until 2024, the majority of that money coming from Washington.

Ghani said he deplored his government’s decision to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners to get peace talks started last year as a “big mistake” that only strengthened the insurgents.

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