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Afghan security personnel inspect the site a day after a car bomb explosion near the wreckage in Kabul on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban on Wednesday claimed responsibility for an attack in Afghanistan's capital that killed at least eight people, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The withdrawal of U.S. troops has propelled fears that the terrorist group could organize another takeover. The raid, waged near the heavily fortified green zone in a neighborhood with many high-ranking Afghan officials, is the Taliban's largest assault in Kabul in nearly a year, per the Times.

  • "It comes as the insurgents push the front lines of their military campaign from rural areas deep into provincial capitals in the south and west of Afghanistan," the Times writes.

What happened: A car bomb first detonated outside acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi's home at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

  • Gunmen stormed the building, where roughly 80 people were trapped, as security forces attempted rescue campaigns.
  • An attacker entered the home of Mohammad Azim Mohsini, a Parliament member and one of Mohammadi's neighbors, after the initial explosion and killed four people inside. Mohsini was not present.
  • The blasts and gunfire continued for several hours, according to the Times.
  • The defense minister survived, but an employee with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and his child were among the eight deaths. Two police officers were also killed in the raid.

What they're saying: "The attack is the beginning of the retaliatory operations against the circles and leaders of the Kabul administration who are ordering attacks and the bombing of different parts of the country," a Taliban spokesperson said in a statement, per the Guardian.

  • The Taliban "will no longer remain indifferent" to Afghan military officials and foreign troops, and "will stand against them with full force."

The UN Security Council condemned the attack "in the strongest terms" and expressed concern about the number of "reported serious human rights abuses and violations" across the country.

  • "[A] sustainable peace can be achieved only through a comprehensive and inclusive Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process that aims at a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, as well as an inclusive, just, and realistic political settlement to end the conflict in Afghanistan," the council said in a statement, noting the need to include women's "full, equal and meaningful participation."

The big picture: Violence has escalated ahead of the U.S. military's full withdrawal in the region.

  • The Biden administration has faced pressure to do more to help Afghan people who assisted the U.S. military during the two-decade war.

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - World

Roadside bomb attack on Syrian troops kills at least 13 in Damascus

At least 13 people died in Damascus when two roadside bombs exploded near a bus carrying Syrian troops on Wednesday, state media reported.

Why it matters: It's the deadliest attack in Syria's capital for years. Blasts have been rare since President Bashar al-Assad's forces recaptured areas previously held by opposition fighters in the country's decadelong conflict, per AP, which notes no one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

Go deeper: Assad comes in from the cold

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.