Blast in diplomatic area of Afghan capital kills, wounds 50

Lance Nichols
June 2, 2017

Clouds of black smoke could be seen rising above the centre of the Afghan capital, close to the presidential palace and foreign embassies. Frantic relatives scanned casualty lists and questioned hospital staff for news.

The bomb, one of the deadliest in Kabul and coming at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, exploded close to the fortified entrance to the German embassy, wounding some staff, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

The target of the attack - which officials said was a suicide vehicle bombing - was not immediately known but Ismail Kawasi, spokesman of the public health ministry, said most of the casualties were civilians. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past. But the dead also included Afghan security guards at the facilities, including the U.S. Embassy, while 11 American contractors were wounded - none with life-threatening injuries, a U.S. State Department official said.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said: "The Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) condemn those blasts carried out against civilians and in which civilians suffer casualties without a clear target". The Chinese, Turkish and Iranian embassies are also located there. His head wound had been bandaged but blood still soaked his white dress shirt.

"I couldn't think clearly, there was a mess everywhere", he said. Many were rushed to hospitals in makeshift ambulances before rescue and police teams took over. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Spain Wednesday as part of a four-nation trip to Europe, condemned the attack on Twitter.


He said India stands with Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism. Germany, Japan and Pakistan said some of their embassy employees and staff were hurt in the explosion.

"Today's tragedy shows that the conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down but dangerously widening, in a way that should alarm the worldwide community", it said in a statement.

"The terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing, and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people", said a statement from the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

US and Afghan forces have been battling the Taliban insurgency for more than 15 years. Since most worldwide troops withdrew at the end of 2014, the Taliban have gained ground and now control or contest about 40 percent of the country, according to USA estimates, though Ghani's government holds all provincial centres.

There are now 8,500 US troops in Afghanistan with a USA promise of more to come.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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