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Kabul Blast Targets EU Vehicle, As Ghani Asks To 'Reexamine' Withdrawal

  • RFE/RL

A suicide car bomber has struck a European Union police vehicle in Kabul, killing one Afghan passerby.

The European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) said the blast occurred when the driver of a car packed with explosives targeted a mission vehicle near the group's headquarters in eastern Kabul on January 5.

Nobody in the vehicle was hurt, but six civilians at the site of the blast were wounded, including one who later died of his injuries.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast via Twitter.

The attack comes days after the U.S.-led NATO combat mission ended in Afghanistan, handing security responsibilities to the Afghan military.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has urged the United States to "reexamine" a timetable for withdrawing the U.S.-led support troops due to stay in the country until 2016.

Speaking on January 4 on the U.S. television news program 60 Minutes, Ghani said that deadlines provide focus but should not be "dogmas."

He added that "there should be a willingness to reexamine a deadline" if all sides have "done their best to achieve objectives."

The number of foreign troops in Afghanistan reached as high as 140,000 during the combat mission that began in 2001, when U.S.-led coalition forces entered the country and toppled the Taliban for sheltering the planners of the September 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities.

About 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will remain in the country under a new two-year training and support mission.

Ghani's statements reflect mounting concern that Afghan is unprepared to assume control of the country's military and security operations.

Kabul has been targeted by a high number of attacks in recent weeks, with Taliban militants targeting government, military, and foreign installations.

There have also been deadly blunders by the Afghan army.

Troops battling Taliban fighters in southern Helmand Province on December 31 fired artillery shells on a nearby wedding party, killing 28 people, including women and children.

Two soldiers were later arrested in connection with the incident.

The same day, Ghani used a New Year's address to call on Afghans to support their security forces.

He praised Afghanistan for its ability to "successfully complete a security and political transition" despite its problems.

With reporting by AP and AFP