95 killed, 158 wounded in Afghan car bombing

2018-01-27 20:14
A relative of a victim is helped as he cries after the deadly suicide attack in Kabul. (Rahmat Gul, AP)

A relative of a victim is helped as he cries after the deadly suicide attack in Kabul. (Rahmat Gul, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kabul — A suicide bomber driving an ambulance killed at least 95 people and wounded 158 more in an attack claimed by the Taliban in the Afghan capital Kabul, authorities said.

The bombing on Saturday came just a week after Taliban militants killed 22 at an international hotel in the city.

It has been a month of relentless attacks in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate making alternate claims of responsibility.

The brutality and frequency of the attacks, including one in December at a Shiite cultural center has shattered Afghanistan's usually quiet winter fighting season. The attacks have infuriated Afghans, frustrated by the worsening security after 16 years of war.

Deteriorating security situation

They have expressed their anger with neighbour Pakistan for harbouring insurgents and with the US-led coalition for its inability to suppress the insurgency. They have also blamed the deteriorating security situation on a deeply divided government embroiled in political feuding that has paralysed Parliament.

The attacker Saturday used the ambulance to get through a security checkpoint in central Kabul, telling police he was taking a patient to a nearby hospital, said Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry. He then detonated his explosives at a second checkpoint, Rahimi said.

The Health Ministry said 95 were killed and 158 wounded.

"The majority of the dead in the attack are civilians, but of course we have military casualties as well," Rahimi said. He said four suspects had been arrested and were being questioned but he didn't elaborate.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, claimed responsibility for the bombing, which sent thick, black smoke into the sky from the site near the government's former Interior Ministry building. Also nearby are the European Union and Indian consulates.

'Senseless and cowardly'

In a statement, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the deadly attack in Kabul. "Indiscriminate attacks against civilians ... can never be justified," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

US Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass condemned the attack as "senseless and cowardly".

The powerful explosion was felt throughout the capital and covered the blast area in smoke and dust. At the scene, dozens of vehicles were damaged or destroyed. Several shops, including some selling antiques and photography equipment, were also destroyed.

Windows at the nearby Jamhuriat government hospital were shattered and its walls damaged. People ran out to help and ambulances arrived to transport dozens of wounded to area hospitals.

The International Committee of the Red Cross condemned the attack in a tweet, saying: "The use of an ambulance in today's attack in #Kabul is harrowing ... Unacceptable and unjustifiable."

It was the second successful Taliban attack in a week on high security targets in the city.

Last Saturday, six Taliban militants attacked Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, leaving 22 people dead, including 14 foreigners. Some 150 guests fled the gun battle and fire sparked by the assault by climbing down bedsheets tied to balconies. The US State Department said multiple American citizens were killed and injured in the attack.

The hotel attack prompted the United States to repeat its demand that Pakistan expel Taliban who have found sanctuaries on its soil, with particular reference to the Haqqani network. On Wednesday a US drone slammed into Pakistani tribal territory that borders Afghanistan killing two Haqqani commanders, according to Pakistani officials, who deny providing organized camps for their safety. Pakistan says the Taliban cross the porous border that separates the two countries along with the estimated 1.5 million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan.

After Saturday's attacks Pakistan issued a statement condemning the bombing.

"No cause or ends justify acts of terrorism against innocent people," the statement said.

Fighting the Taliban

Afghan security forces, whose competency has been uneven, have struggled to fight the Taliban since the US and NATO formally ended their combat mission in 2014.

President Donald Trump has pursued a plan that involves sending thousands more US troops to Afghanistan and envisions shifting away from a "time-based" approach to one that more explicitly links US assistance to concrete results from the Afghan government. Trump's UN envoy, Nikki Haley, said after a recent visit to Afghanistan that Trump's policy was working and that peace talks between the government and the Taliban are closer than ever before.

On December 28 a suicide bomber and other explosions at a Shiite cultural center in Kabul killed at least 41 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group that may have been aimed at a pro-Iran news outlet based in the building.

On Wednesday, ISIS militants stormed the offices of Save the Children in eastern Afghanistan killing four and triggering a standoff with police that lasted almost 10 hours. The Islamic State group was involved in at least 10 fatal attacks in Afghanistan last year.


Read more on:    afganistan  |  taliban  |  terrorism  |  isis

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.