Five killed in Kabul as attacks increasingly target civilians

KABUL (Reuters) - Five government employees were killed in two separate attacks in Afghanistan’s capital on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a series in which civilians have been targeted.

Unknown gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying employees of a provincial rural economic development department in southern Kabul, killing four people.

The head of the department was among those killed as they headed back to the central province of Maidan Wardak where their department was based, a spokesman for the national rural rehabilitation department said.

A foreign affairs ministry vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in eastern Kabul, killing the driver, the ministry said in a statement.

Almost daily deadly attacks with small, magnetic bombs attached to the undercarriages of vehicles, roadside explosive devices and shootings are unnerving Afghan officials, activists and journalists.

The attacks are concentrated in urban centres and come as protracted peace talks take place in Doha between Taliban militants, fighting since 2001 to regain power, and Afghan government officials.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters in a text message that Tuesday’s attacks “had nothing to do with us”.

A number of Western embassies recently said in a statement, before Tuesday’s bloodshed, that the Taliban were responsible for “the majority of this targeted violence”.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing how to handle the peace process, including a troop withdrawal agreement Washington signed with the Taliban under previous President Donald Trump.

Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Editing by Nick Macfie