Kabul bomb kills at least 80, mainly civil­ians

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - REUTERS

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.

PIC­TURE: AP

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.