SUICIDE BOMBER KILLS 1 IN DIPLOMATIC AREA IN KABUL, LSLAMIC STATE CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY

Security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing in the diplomatic area of capital Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, February 24, 2018.

A suicide bomber killed at least one person and injured six in an attack in the diplomatic area of Afghanistan's capital on Saturday, an Afghan official said. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan's capital Kabul.

In a statement posted on its news agency Aamaq on Saturday, IS said the attack was carried out by a bomber with an explosive vest and targeted the gate of the headquarters of the Afghan intelligence service in central Kabul.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the attack took place in the Shash Darak area of Kabul, near NATO headquarters and not far from the US Embassy Danish said the initial casualty count could rise.

Meanwhile, an Afghan official said at least three security personnel were killed in separate suicide bombing attacks in southern Helmand province.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor in Helmand, said a car bomber early Saturday was shot by Afghan army soldiers but his vehicle managed to reach the entrance of the army base in Nad Aali district, killing two soldiers and wounding another.

In a second suicide bombing attack near another military base in Helmand's capital city Lashkar Gah, one security person was killed and seven civilians wounded, Zwak said.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for both suicide attacks in Helmand province.

The resurgent Taliban and the newer IS affiliate have been blamed for increased violence in Afghanistan after US and NATO forces concluded combat missions in 2014 that began after the 9/11 attacks in the US.

On January 27, a Taliban attacker drove an ambulance filled with explosives into the heart of the city, killing at least 103 people and wounding as many as 235.

The Taliban claimed the ambulance attack, as well as an attack a week earlier in which militants stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people, including 14 foreigners, and setting off a 13-hour battle with security forces.

The recent attacks have underscored the weaknesses of Afghan security forces more than 16 years after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban.

They also raise questions about President Donald Trump's strategy for winning America's longest war, which was announced in August but has changed little on the ground. That strategy was based on ramping up military pressure on the Taliban to eventually force them into peace talks with the government.