Kabul bomb kills at least 80, mainly civilians
KABUL: A powerful bomb hidden in a sewage tanker exploded in the morning rush hour in the centre of the Afghan capital yesterday, police said, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds and damaging embassy buildings.
The victims appeared mainly to have been Afghan civilians.
The bomb, one of the deadliest in Kabul and coming at the start of the holy month of Ramadaan, exploded close to the fortified entrance to the German embassy, wounding some staff, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.
He said one Afghan security guard was killed and others were likely among the dead. “Such attacks do not change our resolve in continuing to support the Afghan government in the stabilisation of the country,” he said.
Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for city police, said the explosives were hidden in a sewage truck. He suggested the German embassy might not have been the target of the blast, which sent clouds of black smoke into the sky near the presidential palace. “There are several other important compounds and offices near there too,” he said.
The blast, which shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of metres away, was unusually strong.
The Taliban, seeking to reimpose Islamic rule after their 2001 ousting by US-led forces, denied responsibility and said they condemned attacks that had no legitimate target and killed civilians.
Islamic State, the other main militant group active in Afghanistan, has claimed responsibility for previous high-profile attacks in Kabul, including an attack on a military hospital in March that killed more than 50 people.
The Nato-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul said Afghan security forces prevented the vehicle carrying the bomb from entering the heavily protected Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies, as well as its headquarters, also suggesting it may not have reached its intended target. A public health official said at least 80 people had been killed and more than 350 wounded.
Germany will cease flights deporting rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan in the next few days, a German official confirmed. Germany began carrying out group deportations of Afghans in December, seeking to show it is tackling an influx of migrants by getting rid of those who do not qualify as refugees.
The French, Turkish and Chinese embassies were among those damaged, the three countries said, adding there were no immediate signs of injuries among their diplomats.
The BBC said one of its drivers, an Afghan, was killed driving journalists to work. Four journalists were wounded and treated in hospital. Switzerland said the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation had several windows broken but the staff were safe.
Video shot at the scene showed burning debris, crumbled walls and buildings, and destroyed cars, many with dead or injured people inside.
At a local hospital, there was chaos as ambulances brought in the wounded.
Security forces and medics work at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday. A massive explosion rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of the Afghan capital, causing casualties and sending a huge plume of smoke over the city.