Deadly blast kills 26 in Kabul; 35 killed in Ghor hospi­tal at­tack

Tal­iban claim re­spon­si­bil­ity for Kabul bus at­tack, deny hands in the other

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Kabul, Afghanistan - At least 26 peo­ple were killed and 41 wounded on Mon­day af­ter a Tal­iban-claimed car bomb struck a bus car­ry­ing gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees through a Shi­ite neigh­bour­hood in Kabul, rais­ing fears of sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence in the Afghan cap­i­tal.

The as­sault came as a pres­i­den­tial spokesman said the Tal­iban also killed at least 35 civil­ians in an at­tack on a hospi­tal in cen­tral Ghor province over the week­end.

The deadly at­tacks un­der­score spi­ralling in­se­cu­rity in Afghanistan as the resur­gent Tal­iban ramp up their of­fen­sive across the coun­try, while se­cu­rity forces strug­gle to con­tain them.

In Mon­day’s blast the bus was car­ry­ing em­ploy­ees of the min­istry of mines, pass­ing from western Kabul to the down­town min­istry dur­ing rush hour, In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Na­jib Dan­ish told AFP.

It was struck by the car bomb as it passed through a busy area of the cap­i­tal that is home to many Shi­ite Hazaras, a per­se­cuted eth­nic mi­nor­ity.

An AFP pho­tog­ra­pher at the scene saw mul­ti­ple bod­ies and wounded peo­ple in the street, sur­rounded by shat­tered glass as se­cu­rity forces cor­doned off the area. The charred re­mains of the bus were left smok­ing in the mid­dle of the road as the wounded were rushed to hos­pi­tals in am­bu­lances as well as pri­vate cars and taxis.

“It was a huge ex­plo­sion, my house nearly col­lapsed,” a neigh- bour­hood res­i­dent who gave his name as Mostafa told AFP, adding that the street was ‘filled with hu­man flesh and blood’.

“It was hor­ri­ble,” said shop­keeper Momin. “It is a crowded area - many of my friends and other shop­keep­ers are ei­ther killed or wounded.”

The Tal­iban claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the blast, which came just be­fore 7am. The group rarely claims at­tacks with high civil­ian ca­su­al­ties, but does fre­quently tar­get gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees.

Afghan pres­i­den­tial spokesman Shah Hus­sain Mur­tazawi put the toll at 26 dead and 41 wounded.

Mur­tazawi also said at least 35 peo­ple were killed in the hospi­tal at­tack over the week­end.

All the vic­tims were civil­ians, Mur­tazawi said, with­out spec­i­fy­ing if they were patients or staff. “This is a cruel crime against hu- man­ity,” he added.

He did not elab­o­rate, and of­fi­cials say phone lines are down in Tay­wara district, cap­tured by the mil­i­tants over the week­end.

The Tal­iban have de­nied the claim and re­ports they torched the hospi­tal, though a spokesman said parts of the build­ing were dam­aged in fight­ing.

Ghor is a poor, moun­tain­ous province that has been rel­a­tively safe in the past but shares a bor­der with the Tal­iban-in­fested prov­inces of Hel­mand and Farah.

Afghan forces con­trol 59.7 per cent of the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a US watch­dog’s re­port is­sued in May af­ter the win­ter lull in fight­ing, up slightly from the pre­vi­ous quar­ter. But the in­sur­gents have ramped up their of­fen­sive across the coun­try since launch­ing their so-called ‘spring of­fen­sive’ ear­lier this year.

Mon­day’s at­tack in Kabul came as the Hazara com­mu­nity had planned to hold a demon­stra­tion in the same neigh­bour­hood to mark the one-year an­niver­sary of twin bomb­ings that killed 84 peo­ple in an at­tack claimed by Is­lamic State.

(AFP)

A man walks in front of a dam­age wed­ding hall near the site of a car bomb at­tack, in Kabul on Mon­day

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