|A plume of smoke rises near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. A blast was heard shortly after midnight on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Cara Anna)|
A rocket exploded near the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan early Wednesday, the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
A plume of smoke rose over central Kabul shortly after midnight and sirens could be heard. Inside the embassy, employees heard this message over the loudspeaker: "An explosion caused by a rocket has occurred on compound."
The attack was the first major action in Kabul since President Trump announced Monday that peace talks with the Taliban to end America's longest war are "dead." Over the weekend, Trump abruptly canceled planned meetings with Afghan and Taliban leaders at Camp David. The Taliban had claimed responsibility for two car bombings last week, one of which killed an American soldier.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Al Jazeera that Trump would regret turning his back on peace talks. "We had two ways to end the occupation in Afghanistan. One was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations," said Mujahid. "If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it."
The 9/11 anniversary is a sensitive day in Afghanistan's capital and one on which attacks have occurred. A U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harbored Usama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader and attacks mastermind.
In the nearly 18 years of fighting since then, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan soared to 100,000 and dropped dramatically after bin Laden was killed in neighboring Pakistan in 2011.
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