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Two Russian embassy employees and four Afghans killed in Kabul attack

"At 10:50 a.

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Two Russian embassy employees and four Afghans killed in Kabul attack

"At 10:50 a.m. local time (0620 GMT), in the immediate vicinity of the Russian embassy in Kabul, an unidentified fighter set off an explosive device. Two employees of the diplomatic mission were killed in the attack," the statement said. Russian diplomacy in a statement.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor confirmed in a tweet the death of the two Russian embassy employees and added that "four fellow civilians" had been killed and "several others injured".

A suicide bomber was shot dead by Taliban guards at the Russian embassy "before he could reach his target", he told AFP earlier.

As in recent attacks that the Taliban have tried to play down, heavy security quickly cordoned off the area and prevented media from filming nearby.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

"We're talking about a terrorist attack. It's unacceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov quickly condemned.

Immediate steps were taken to tighten security around the embassy, ​​which is located on one of Kabul's main roads leading to the Old Parliament, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Moscow.

- "Weakness" of intelligence -

"The means of the Afghan intelligence and counterintelligence services were used," added Mr. Lavrov, calling for the perpetrators of the attack to be punished "as soon as possible".

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its part specified that an investigation had been opened. The authorities "will not allow enemies to sabotage relations between the two countries through such negative actions", he added.

Russia is one of the few countries to have kept its embassy open after the Taliban took over in August 2021, without however having recognized their government.

Monday's attack shows the government's "weakness in intelligence gathering", according to Afghan security analyst Hekmatullah Hekmat, interviewed by AFP.

"The government has a responsibility to provide security for foreign missions. If it cannot prevent such attacks in the heart of Kabul, then it cannot provide security in the countryside," he said.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan, which condemned the attack, stressed in a tweet "the need for the authorities to take measures to ensure the safety of the population and diplomatic missions".

Violence has largely subsided since the Taliban returned to power last year, but several bomb attacks - particularly targeting minority communities - have rocked the country in recent months, many of which have been claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State ( IS).

- Series of IS attacks -

On Friday, a huge explosion rocked one of the largest mosques in Herat, western Afghanistan, killing 18 people including its influential imam, Mujib ur Rahman Ansari.

The imam, who called for the beheading of those who commit the slightest "act" against the government, is the second pro-Taliban cleric to be killed in an explosion in less than a month, following the suicide bombing on 11 August targeting Rahimullah Haqqani in his madrassa in Kabul.

Several mosques across the country have been targeted this year, some in attacks claimed by IS.

A series of bomb attacks hit the country especially at the end of April, during the holy month of Ramadan, and at the end of May, in which dozens of people were killed.

IS has mainly targeted minority communities such as Shia, Sufis and Sikhs, but has also targeted the Taliban.

Taliban officials regularly claim that they have security in the country under control. Specialists, however, consider that IS, another Sunni group but with which they maintain deep enmity and ideological differences, remains the main threat to their regime.

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