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Powerful blast rattles central Kabul

KABUL: A powerful explosion ripped through central Kabul during morning rush hour Tuesday, a week after the Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive.

The blast struck a densely packed neighbourhood close to several military compounds, police told AFP.

It was not immediately known if there were any casualties from the explosion, which rattled windows several miles away and sent a plume of thick smoke rising in the sky.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Afghan Taliban last Tuesday announced the start of their “spring offensive” even as the government in Kabul seeks to bring the insurgents back to the negotiating table to end their drawn-out conflict.

The Taliban warned they would “employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions across the country” during the offensive dubbed Operation Omari in honour of the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, whose death was announced last year.

The annual spring offensive normally marks the start of the “fighting season”, though this winter the lull was shorter and they continued to battle government forces albeit with less intensity.

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