KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban attack, most likely carried out by a drone, killed at least four security officers in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, according to senior and local Afghan officials, representing what could be the group’s first publicly known use of the method in the 19-year war.
The strike targeted the governor’s compound in Kunduz, a province that has seen heavy fighting, like much of the country, in recent months despite continuing peace talks between Taliban and Afghan government negotiators in Qatar. At least eight other people were wounded in the blast, local officials said.
“When the Kunduz governor bodyguards were playing volleyball in the governor’s guesthouse, the explosion took place among them,” said Ghulam Rabbani Rabbani, a member of Kunduz’s provincial council.
“It is not clear that it was an explosion or a missile or drone attack,” he added.
Fazal Karim Aimaq, a member of the Afghan Parliament from Kunduz, said on his Facebook page that the episode represented “a new method of attack” but did not say if a drone had carried it out.
A Taliban spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The Taliban’s use of small, over-the-counter drones has been limited in recent years to filming attacks for propaganda and reconnaissance. But, according to U.S. officials, there have been previous unreported instances of the remote-controlled devices being used to drop munitions, a practice made popular by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the past.
In May, a similar strike occurred on the Kunduz governor’s compound, killing one person. At the time, the governor’s spokesman said a missile had hit a farewell party — a large gathering much like Sunday’s volleyball game — hosted by the governor. But later local officials said they believed a drone may have carried out the attack because of its precise nature.