KABUL, Afghanistan – A powerful explosion rocked an upscale neighborhood of Afghanistan's capital Tuesday in an attack that apparently targeted the country's acting defense minister. At least 10 people were wounded, a health official said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai said it appeared the guesthouse of acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was targeted in the attack. His Jamiat-e-Islami party was told the minister was not in the guesthouse and his family had been safely evacuated.
Details of the attack were sketchy even as it ended, but it appeared that gunmen had entered the area after the explosion. Stanekzai said three attackers were killed by security personnel. It was unclear whether the wounded were hurt in the explosion or by gunfire.
No one immediately took responsibility for the attack, but it came as Taliban insurgents have been pressing ahead with an offensive that is putting pressure on the provincial capitals in the south and west of the country.
Belarusian activist found hanged
A Belarusian activist who ran a group in Ukraine helping Belarusians fleeing persecution was found dead in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, local police said Tuesday.
Vitaly Shishov, leader of the Kyiv-based Belarusian House in Ukraine, was found hanged in one of the city's parks not far from his home, police said in a statement. A probe has been launched, with police investigating whether it was a suicide or a murder made to look like suicide, head of Ukraine's National Police Igor Klymenko told reporters on Tuesday.
Shishov's Belarusian girlfriend, Bazhena Zholudz, told The Associated Press that she doesn't believe that he could have killed himself. Zholudz added that Shishov had recently noted that he was being shadowed. “He recently noted vehicles and people who were following him,” she said.
Wildfires erupt as heat grips Greece
More than 500 firefighters struggled through the night to contain a large forest blaze on the outskirts of Athens, which raced into residential areas Tuesday, forcing thousands to flee. It was the worst of 81 wildfires that broke out in Greece over the past 24 hours, amid one of the country's most intense heatwaves in decades.
Civil Protection chief Nikos Hardalias said the fire north of Athens was “very dangerous,” and had been exacerbated by strong winds and tinder-dry conditions due to the heat that reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the area.
No severe injuries were reported, and authorities said several buildings had been damaged but no detailed breakdown was available. The cause of the blaze was unclear.
UK report adds to Persian Gulf tension
The British navy warned of a “potential hijack” of a ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday, though the circumstances remained unclear.
The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers and as commercial shipping in the region has found itself caught in the crosshairs. Most recently, the U.S., the U.K. and Israel have blamed Iran for a drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman that killed two people. Iran has denied involvement.
The British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations initially warned ships Tuesday that “an incident is currently underway” off the coast of Fujairah. Hours later, the authorities said the incident was a “potential hijack,” but provided no further details.