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Blast heard near US Embassy in Kabul on 9/11 anniversary

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A large explosion has been heard in Afghanistan's capital near the US Embassy shortly after midnight on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States.

A plume of smoke rose early Wednesday over Kabul. An embassy employee reached by phone confirmed the blast but had no details.

It was the first major attack in the Afghan capital since President Donald Trump abruptly called off US-Taliban talks on the brink of an apparent deal to end America's longest war.

Two Taliban car bombs shook Kabul last week, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission. Trump has cited the death of a US service member in one of those blasts as the reason why he now calls the US-Taliban talks "dead."

The 9/11 anniversary is a sensitive day in Afghanistan's capital and one on which attacks have occurred.

A US- led invasion of Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 attack toppled the Taliban, who had harboured Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader and attacks mastermind.

In the nearly 18 years of fighting since then, the number of US troops in Afghanistan soared to 100,000 and dropped dramatically after bin Laden was killed in neighbouring Pakistan in 2011.

Now about 14,000 US troops remain and Trump has called it "ridiculous" that they are still in Afghanistan after so long and so many billions of dollars spent.

It is not clear whether the US-Taliban talks will resume.