Taliban claim responsibility for deadly Kabul blast

Taliban claim responsibility for deadly Kabul blast
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The Taliban have continued their targeted campaign against Afghan pilots with a bomb attack in Kabul on Saturday that killed a member of the Afghan air force and injured five civilians. 

Reuters reported that the pilot, Hamidullah Azimi, was traveling in a vehicle when a sticky bomb that had been attached to it exploded. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid shortly after the explosion said that the group was behind the attack. 

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Abdul Fatah Eshaqzai, commander of the Afghan air force, said that Azimi had moved to Afghanistan’s capital city with his family a year ago due to security threats and was trained in flying U.S.-made UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. 

The pilot had been serving in the Afghan air force for nearly four years, according to Reuters. 

The explosion comes after Mujahid confirmed last month that the Taliban had launched an effort to track down and assassinate Afghan air force pilots. 

U.S. and Afghan officials have characterized the targeted campaign as a means for the Taliban to gain hold over the country and destroy the Afghan military's defensive capabilities as the U.S. nears the completion of its total troop withdrawal from the country. 

The Taliban have also claimed responsibility for a late Tuesday car bomb and gun attack initiated on the home of Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, with the group saying that it wished to disrupt an important meeting that was underway. 

There was another attack Wednesday near Afghanistan’s main security agency in Kabul that wounded three people, though no group immediately claimed responsibility.

President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE has continued to stand by his decision to remove all American troops from Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, though concerns have grown among experts that the Taliban could quickly take over the country without a stable U.S. presence there. 

On Friday, the Taliban secured a major win by claiming control over Zaranj, the capital city of Afghanistan’s Nimruz province, several days after making progress in two major cities — Kandahar and Herat — for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The same day, news reports revealed that the Taliban had killed the head of Afghanistan’s government media department.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said this week that Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenSullivan raised normalizing relations with Israel during meeting with Saudi crown prince: report Democrats call for State to lift ban on embassies discussing same-sex marriage US, Brazil discuss ways to slow migration MORE had spoken with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and that Blinken “emphasized the need to accelerate peace negotiations” with the Taliban. 

The Biden administration official also expressed a desire for Afghanistan to “achieve a political settlement that is inclusive, respects the rights of all Afghans, including women and minorities, allows the Afghan people to have a say in choosing their leaders, and prevents Afghan soil from being used to threaten the United States and its allies and partners.”