Taliban car bomber hits UK firm in Afganistan
A car bomb targeting a secure compound which houses G4S, a British security company, in east Kabul was followed up by attackers on foot. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the assault.
A spokesman for G4S confirmed to the 'Telegraph' that there was "an incident at one of our locations in Kabul". He said the company was currently "coordinating with the Afghan authorities to bring it to a conclusion".
The company's website says it has a purpose-built headquarters in Kabul's Anjuman Secure Business Park. The 26,000sqm secure compound provides "operational support" for clients and can also provide secure accommodation.
Interior Ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said at least seven wounded had been evacuated from the area, but did not disclose their nationalities.
Earlier, sources had said the blast was followed by gunfire.
Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have stepped up their attacks on Kabul, which is one of the deadliest places in the country for civilians.
The attack came just hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a 12-person team for prospective peace talks with the Taliban, as the UN renewed calls for direct negotiations between Kabul and the militants.
The Afghan government, Western diplomats and United Nations officials have in recent weeks raised hopes of finally reaching a deal to end the Taliban's 17-year insurgency.
At an international conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, Ghani said his government had "formed a 12-person negotiating team, comprised of both women and men, and led by presidential chief of staff (Abdul Salam) Rahimi".
Mr Rahimi, a former humanitarian worker and ex-deputy Afghan finance minister, is considered one of Mr Ghani's closest aides.
However, Wednesday's assault also follows a wave of bloody violence across the war-torn country in recent weeks that has killed hundreds of people.
On November 20 at least 55 people were killed when a bomber blew himself up in the middle of a banquet hall in one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan this year.
The violence comes as the Taliban intensifies pressure on Afghan security forces, even as the international community ramps up efforts towards talks.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has expressed hopes that a peace deal to end the war could be struck before the Afghan presidential election, scheduled for April.
His comments underscore an apparent increasing sense of urgency in the White House and among American diplomats for a peace deal to be done quickly. (© Daily Telegraph, London)