Speed Reads

Conflict in Afghanistan

Taliban denies involvement in fatal Kabul rocket strikes ahead of meeting with Pompeo

Nearly two dozen rockets hit Kabul's heavily fortified Green Zone, where many embassies and international firms are based, on Saturday, reportedly killing at least eight civilians and wounding at least 31 others in the Afghan capital. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for Afghanistan's interior ministry, said the perpetrators mounted the rockets on a small truck and set them off, adding that an investigation is under way.

The Islamic State has reportedly claimed responsibility, while the Taliban, which is involved in peace talks with the Afghan government as the sides seek an end to their decades-long conflict, denied involvement, saying it does "not blindly fire on public places." Despite the negotiations, violence has continued to rise in Afghanistan in recent weeks, with the Taliban and other armed groups carrying out attacks. The Afghan government has maintained the Taliban orchestrated another recent attack that was similarly claimed by ISIS.

There is reportedly hope that a breakthrough in the talks is just a few days away, as the U.S., under orders from President Trump, prepares to pull more than 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan. The move has been met with skepticism, although it was received positively by the Taliban. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Taliban and Afghan negotiators Saturday in Qatar, the State Department announced Friday. Read more at Al Jazeera.