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Explosions Rock Kabul After Obama Visit

RIA Novosti

17:01 02/05/2012 MOSCOW, May 2 (RIA Novosti) - At least two explosions hit Kabul after U.S. President Barack Obama left the Afghan capital following a surprise visit to sign a partnership agreement with Hamid Karzai, the Voice of America reported citing local police and witnesses.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for one suicide bombing, which, according to Kabul's police chief exploded on the main road to the east of Kabul. A few U.S. military bases and housing compounds are located in the area. According to the interior minister, at least six people, including five civilians and a security guard, were killed.

The Taliban claimed on their website that a group of their men had set off a car bomb at the entrance to a U.S. base in the Zaka Toot area of the city, followed by attacks with gunfire and grenades.

Witnesses reported at least one other explosion in the city’s east, followed by gunfire.

During his address to the nation from Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base, Obama in particular said talks with the Taliban were underway.

“In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban. We’ve made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws,” he said.

“Many members of the Taliban - from foot soldiers to leaders - have indicated an interest in reconciliation. The path to peace is now set before them. Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan security forces, backed by the United States and our allies,” Obama said.

During the brief visit, Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement outlining interaction between the countries after the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international troops in 2014.

Later in the day two soldiers of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed by a bomb blast in eastern Afghanistan, Xinhua reported citing NATO command.

"Two International Security Assistance Force service members died following an improvised explosive device attack in eastern Afghanistan today," the command was quoted as saying.

It did not identify the nationalities of the victims or the exact location of the incident, saying it is the ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

More than 130 NATO soldiers, most of them Americans, have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of this year.

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