US Military 'Aware' of Afghanistan Attack Reports as Violence Escalates

The U.S. military has told Newsweek it is tracking the recent reports of an explosive attack occurring in the Afghan capital of Kabul in what is set to be the final month of U.S. troop presence in the country.

"CENTCOM is aware of reports of an explosion in Kabul and is looking into it, but we have nothing more to provide at this time," a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command told Newsweek.

Initial reports emerged Tuesday of a loud blast that rocked the city's 10th police district. Subsequent news from local outlets suggested that a car bomb had targeted the residence of Acting Afghan Defense Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi and that a gunfight had ensued on the site.

Bismillah later confirmed what he said had been a "terrorist attack" and said he was safe. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesperson Fawad Aman echoed the news.

"By the grace of God, General Bismillah Mohammadi, the Minister of National Defense, is completely healthy," Aman tweeted.

The attacks came shortly after news of a phone call between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during which the top U.S. diplomat set out "to reiterate the strong and enduring U.S. commitment to Afghanistan" as U.S. troops left the country ahead of their August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden, according to a State Department readout.

"The Secretary and President Ghani emphasized the need to accelerate peace negotiations and achieve a political settlement that is inclusive, respects the rights of all Afghans, including women and minorities, allows the Afghan people to have a say in choosing their leaders, and prevents Afghan soil from being used to threaten the United States and its allies and partners," the readout said.

The State Department specifically called out the Taliban, the powerful movement that has steadily gained ground in spite of the 20-year U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and is now advancing nationwide.

"Both leaders condemned the ongoing Taliban attacks, which show little regard for human life and human rights, and deplored the loss of innocent Afghan lives and displacement of the civilian population. Secretary Blinken and President Ghani pledged to remain in close contact going forward," the statement read.

Ghani's office released its own account of the call as well.

"The two sides discussed the relationship between the two countries and the continuation of U.S. cooperation with Afghanistan in various fields, regional issues and the role of regional countries in the Afghan peace process," the Afghan side said.

Blinken was said to have expressed "concern over the escalation of violence by the Taliban" as he "reaffirmed his country's continued support for Afghanistan's security and defense forces, and stressed the role of the United States in accelerating the Afghan peace process."

The two men discussed "regional issues and the role of regional countries in the Afghan peace process" as well during their call.

US, flag, helicopter, embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan
The U.S. Central Command said it was "aware" of an explosion in the Afghanistan capitol of Kabul. The U.S. national flag and a helicopter is reflected on the windows of the U.S. embassy building in Kabul on July 30. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

Also on Tuesday, CENTCOM offered an update on the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan, saying that the Pentagon "has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 984 C-17 loads of material out of Afghanistan and have turned nearly 17,074 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition."

These pieces of equipment "comprise almost entirely federal excess personal property," most of it "is not defensive articles or considered to be major equipment," according to the statement. Seven facilities were also said to have been handed over to the Afghan Defense Ministry.

"The withdrawal process continues; U.S. Central Command estimates that we have completed more than 95% of the entire withdrawal process," CENTCOM said.

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.