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Blasts on buses in western Kabul kill at least 7: Police, Middle East News & Top Stories

KABUL (REUTERS) – Blasts hit two buses in western Kabul on Saturday (June 12), killing at least seven people, according to police.

The explosions took place in a neighbourhood dominated by the minority Hazara community where similar attacks on buses earlier this month killed 12 civilians.

Basir Mujahid, Kabul’s police spokesman, added that six people had also been wounded in Saturday’s blasts.

Violence has been rising as foreign forces withdraw from the country by Sept 11 and efforts to broker a peace settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent Taliban have slowed.

It was not immediately clear who was behind Saturday’s attacks.

The Hazara community has also been the target of a number of attacks from the Islamic State militant group.

In May an unclaimed attack on a school in the area left around 80, mostly school girls, dead.

The United States, one of the foreign countries with a significant presence in Afghanistan, believes keeping an international diplomatic presence in Kabul requires a “functioning, secure” airport.

A State Department spokesperson said in a statement on Friday: “We underscore that a functioning, secure airport is essential to any international diplomatic presence and will benefit Afghan travelers and the Afghan economy.”

Their comment appeared to be a message to the Islamist Taliban that unless countries with embassies in Kabul feel that their diplomats can safely access a functioning airport, they could close their missions.

The statement came a day after a Taliban spokesman effectively rejected Turkey’s proposal that its troops remain to guard and run the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the departure of the rest of the US-led foreign force.

The Taliban’s position poses serious questions for the United States, other countries and international organisations with missions in Kabul about how to evacuate personnel from landlocked Afghanistan should fighting threaten the capital.

US officials have said they believe the insurgents seek international legitimacy and an end to their pariah status.

Australia shuttered its embassy in Kabul last month because of security concerns. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week vowed to keep the American embassy open.

President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw from America’s longest war, stalled peace talks and unrelenting violence are fueling fears that Afghanistan is headed into an all-out civil war that could return the Taliban to power.

Mr Biden is expected to discuss the issue when he holds talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Brussels on Monday.

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