KABUL — A suicide car bomber struck near the Kabul headquarters of the intelligence agency and the Interior Ministry, exposing the challenges Afghan forces face as they ready to take over the lead security role within months.
Gunfire could be heard in the heavily guarded part of the capital 30 minutes after the explosion, said Sediq Siddiqui, a spokesman for interior ministry. Kabul is routinely targeted by Taliban militants fighting U.S.-led troops and the Afghan forces of President Hamid Karzai.
Police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanekzai confirmed the bombing, providing no details of casualties.
Signaling his resolve to extricate the United States from an 11-year war, President Barack Obama Jan. 12 laid out an accelerated security transition at a news conference with the Afghan leader.
The two leaders met as the Obama administration considers options for how many support troops to keep in Afghanistan after 2014 — from none to several thousand.
While Pentagon officials have proposed keeping some troops in Afghanistan for counterterrorism and training, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Obama, said last week the United States has the option of removing all its forces if differences, such as immunity from local prosecution, between the two countries aren’t resolved.
Pakistan has begun releasing some members of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement in a bid to help the United States and Afghan governments start meaningful negotiations with the insurgents.
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