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Multiple explosions rock Afghan capital Kabul

Wakil Kohsar, AFP file picture | Afghan policemen arrive near the site of suicide car bomb attack targeting foreign forces in Kabul on March 2, 2018

At least three people were wounded after five rockets were fired into Kabul on Tuesday, police said, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack on the Afghan capital.

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The rockets landed in residential areas "near the mountains in PD5 (police district)" in the west of the city, police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said. It is not clear if a nearby police academy was the intended target.

Three civilians were wounded in the attacks and police have been deployed to find the launch site, Stanikzai added.

The rocket attacks came two days after a suicide bomber blew himself up near Kabul international airport, killing at least 23 people, including AFP driver Mohammad Akhtar. A further 107 people were wounded.

Sunday's attack was claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), which said it had targeted Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who returned to Kabul after more than a year in exile.

Scores of government officials, political leaders and supporters had gone to the airport to welcome home Dostum, a powerful ethnic Uzbek leader and former warlord.

Dostum was unharmed in the attack, his armoured vehicle having already whisked him away when the bomber struck.

The attacks also came a day after top US commanders told reporters in Kabul that they were seeing progress in the nearly 17-year war.

General Joseph Votel, who heads the Central Command that oversees US operations in the region, expressed "cautious optimism" that President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy was working.

As evidence, Votel pointed to the Afghan government's unilateral ceasefire last month that was reciprocated by the Taliban for three days -- the first formal nationwide truce since the war started.

"Our campaign approach of (increasing) military pressure provided the time and space for diplomatic and social pressure to pursue this opportunity," Votel said.

'More work to do'

US air and ground operations in Afghanistan have been ramped up under Trump's plan, announced last August, that gave American troops more leeway to go after Taliban and IS fighters in Afghanistan.

"We do recognise there's a lot more work to do here... But the momentum is moving in the right direction here under our strategy," Votel added.

While the roughly 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan provide the main component of the NATO mission to support and train local forces, some are also involved in counterterrorism operations.

Ordinary Afghans have borne the brunt of the grinding war that has turned Kabul into one of the most dangerous places in the country for civilians.

Militant attacks and suicide bombs were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of 2018, a recent UN report showed.

The total number of civilians killed was 1,692, the highest number for the period since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began keeping records in 2009.

Another 3,430 people were wounded, the report said.

Suicide bombs and "complex" attacks that involve several militants accounted for 1,413 casualties -- 427 deaths and 986 injuries -- up 22 percent from a year earlier.

If that trend continues, the figure will top the 2017 full-year record of nearly 2,300 casualties.

(AFP)

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