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Russian embassy car blown up in Afghanistan in possible assassination attempt, they say

The bomb disposal team of the Afghan Army 215 Corps neutralizes an IED in Sangin, Helmand. (Al Jazeera English/Released)
December 02, 2020

A car for the Russian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) on Tuesday while driving through the Afghan capital city in what may have been an assassination attempt.

In a Tuesday statement, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “On December 1, while a Russian diplomatic mission’s car was driving along the road near the Russian embassy in Kabul, an improvised explosive device was detonated. The employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in the vehicle received a slight concussion.”

Zakharova said a preliminary investigation of the roadside bomb attack indicated the attack may have been meant to target a pickup truck used by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and that the truck had service members on board. The ANSF was traveling in front of the Russian embassy vehicle when the explosion occurred.

Zakharova described the incident as a “terrorist attack” and said that, while the explosive device may have been meant to target the ANSF vehicle, “we cannot exclude that the terrorist attack was targeting the Russian nationals.”

“We demand that the Afghan side conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and take exhaustive measures to ensure the safety of the personnel of the Russian missions in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” Zakharova said. “The Russian Embassy in Kabul is taking additional steps to increase the security of personnel and facilities of the diplomatic mission.”

Neither the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Zakharova indicated who might have been behind the roadside bombing attack.

The reported attack in Afghanistan took place amid a surge of violence in Afghanistan, reported by AFP in recent days. At least 30 Afghan security personnel were reportedly killed by a suicide car bomb attack near Ghazni, making it one of the deadliest attacks on government forces in recent months.

The reported roadside bomb attack comes more than a week after President Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller officially announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, bringing U.S. troop levels in the country from about 4,500 to about 2,500 by January 15.

Trump has sought to continue troop reductions in Afghanistan, in line with terms laid out in a February U.S.-Taliban peace deal, which laid out a rough 14-month timeline for the U.S. to leave the country. While the peace deal with the Taliban laid established a cease-fire between the U.S. and the Taliban, the Taliban has continued to attack Afghan government forces, even over repeated warnings from the U.S. to reduce violence in the country.

Before he was fired, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper reportedly told Trump that conditions were not right to withdraw more troops from the country. Esper reportedly cited ongoing violent conditions in the country.