Afghan security checks a car destroyed in a rocket attack in Kabul, Afghanistan,Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Multiple rockets were…
An Afghan security officer checks a car heavily damaged in a rocket attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 21, 2020.

ISLAMABAD - Officials in Afghanistan say about two dozen mortar shells hit downtown Kabul early Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring 31 others.
 
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the rockets that were fired from the back of two vehicles slammed into different parts of the capital.
 
The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group that tracks online activity of jihadist organizations. A spokesman for the Taliban insurgent group denied its involvement.
 
The Iranian embassy in Kabul said one of the rockets also landed at its compound.
 
“Fortunately, there were no casualties and all Embassy's staff are in good health. #Afghanistan,” the diplomatic mission tweeted.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement the U.N. chief “hopes the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations can swiftly achieve a de-escalation of the conflict and cessation of attacks in order to save lives.”

He added that “The upcoming Afghanistan 2020 Conference on 23 and 24 November, co-hosted by Afghanistan, Finland, and the United Nations, is an opportunity to renew commitments to the peaceful development and future prosperity of the country.”

Earlier this month, three Islamic State gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed Kabul University and killed 22 people, mostly Afghan students. The Iranian ambassador was also present inside the campus at the time of the attack, but he escaped unhurt.
 
The Islamic State terror group had also taken responsibility for a similar rocket attack in March that targeted the presidential inauguration in Kabul.
 
The violence came just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately Saturday with negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghan government in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
 
The Afghan rivals have been engaged in a U.S.-brokered peace dialogue since early September, but the process is deadlocked over framework-related disputes.
 
Pompeo is on a seven-nation tour of Europe and the Middle East. The State Department said Friday the chief U.S. diplomat will also see Qatari leaders on his stop in Doha, where the Taliban maintains its political office.
 
The U.S. acting ambassador in Kabul, Ross Wilson, condemned the rocket attack.
 
“Afghans should not have to live in terror. My condolences to the victims and those families of those killed and wounded. … The United States will continue to work with our Afghan partners to prevent such attacks and hold their perpetrators to account,” Wilson tweeted.

Saturday’s barrage of rockets on Kabul comes amid a recent spike in battlefield violence between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents, which has killed countless combatants on both sides and civilians in November alone.
  

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