Suicide bomber shot dead outside Kabul passport office

A Taliban member walks past people waiting to enter the passport office at a checkpoint in Kabul on December 19, 2021, after Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities said they will resume issuing passports. — Photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images
A Taliban member walks past people waiting to enter the passport office at a checkpoint in Kabul on December 19, 2021, after Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities said they will resume issuing passports. — Photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

KABUL: A would-be suicide bomber was shot dead Thursday outside Kabul’s main passport office, police said, as hundreds of members of the Taliban group lined up for travel documents on a day reserved exclusively for their applications.

“He was identified and killed at a checkpoint at the entrance,” Mobin Khan, spokesman for Kabul police, told AFP.

There have been several attacks against the Taliban since their return to power in August — most claimed by the local chapter of the Daesh.

Around 200 members of the Taliban group had gathered at the passport office from dawn after authorities announced that Thursdays would be set aside exclusively for them to apply for passports.

It was unclear why they wanted passports — or where they planned to travel to — as security operatives barred reporters from interviewing them.

Civilians who arrived to process their applications were held back or sent home by Taliban security.

“Issuing passports to the Taliban members was cancelled due to overcrowding,” said Qari Shafiullah Tassal, a spokesman for the office.

Many people were also falsely claiming they had Taliban links, he told AFP.

The Taliban were also given the opportunity on Thursday to apply for passports in the southern city of Kandahar, according to an AFP reporter there.

Taliban authorities stopped issuing passports after the  group returned to power on August 15, citing staff issues, faulty equipment and a lack of supplies.

Operations resumed on Sunday but hundreds of thousands of Afghans are desperate to flee a growing humanitarian crisis in the country.

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