18 years later, after the US spent nearly $900 billion and more than 147,000 people died, the Taliban are growing more confident of returning to power. The militant group controls or contests half of the country, more territory than any time since they were toppled in 2001.
Since January, there has been a steady spike in attacks as the Taliban have leveraged violence to buttress their bargaining position, and tried to take control of as much territory as they could before the agreement with the US was finalised.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said another 42 people were wounded and 12 vehicles destroyed. Hours later, the Taliban set off a car bomb outside an Afghan military base in a neighboring province, killing four civilians.
The explosion came as a senior US diplomat was visiting Kabul to brief Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on a draft peace accord reached with the insurgents that could see thousands of US troops withdrawn from Afghanistan.
The militants, who have demanded that all foreign forces leave Afghanistan, now control or hold sway over roughly half of the country and are at their strongest since their 2001 defeat by a US-led invasion.
Khalilzad, an Afghan-born American diplomat, was appointed last year to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban, who now control more territory than at any point since their ouster nearly 18 years ago.
“Imagine a house surrounded by Taliban,” Sherzai said. “You would not be able to live, eat or do work with even momentary peace. People here live in constant fear that the Taliban will retake the city at any minute.”