Death toll from 2 Afghan blasts reaches 50

The Star Late Edition - - WORLD -

KABUL: Afghan se­cu­rity of­fi­cials be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing Tues­day’s at­tacks in the cap­i­tal and the south­ern city of Kan­da­har as the death toll climbed to 50.

The Min­istry of Public Health raised the death toll from the Kabul at­tack to 37, with 98 wounded, while 13 peo­ple were con­firmed dead in Kan­da­har.

One se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said the death toll from the Kabul in­ci­dent alone could reach as high as 45-50 with more than 100 wounded.

The vi­o­lence high­lights the pre­car­i­ous se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan, which has seen a steady in­crease in at­tacks since in­ter­na­tional troops ended com­bat op­er­a­tions in 2014, with record num­bers of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties.

Many of the Kabul vic­tims were work­ers in par­lia­men­tary of­fices who were re­turn­ing home in the af­ter­noon rush hour or first re­spon­ders hit when they were at­tend­ing vic­tims of an ini­tial blast.

The Tal­iban, seek­ing to reim­pose Is­lamic law af­ter their oust­ing in 2001, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which they said tar­geted a minibus car­ry­ing per­son­nel from the Na­tional Direc­torate for Se­cu­rity, Afghanistan’s main in­tel­li­gence agency.

But they de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack in Kan­da­har which killed mainly govern­ment of­fi­cials or diplo­mats from the United Arab Emi­rates who were vis­it­ing the city to open an or­phan­age.

Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Hanif At­mar, trav­elled to Kan­da­har yes­ter­day to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Five Emi­rati of­fi­cials as well as the deputy governor of Kan­da­har, Ab­dul Shamsi, and a num­ber of other se­nior of­fi­cials were among the dead.

No claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity has been made for the at­tack, set off by a bomb hid­den un­der so­fas in the res­i­dence of the pro­vin­cial governor.

How­ever, Kan­da­har po­lice chief Ab­dul Razeq, a feared com­man­der who was in the com­pound when the ex­plo­sion oc­curred but who es­caped in­jury, ac­cused Pak­istan’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and the Haqqani net­work, a mil­i­tant group linked to the Tal­iban.

He said work­ers may have smug­gled in the ex­plo­sives used in the at­tack dur­ing con­struc­tion and said a num­ber of peo­ple had been held for ques­tion­ing.

The UN con­demned the “un­prin­ci­pled, un­law­ful and de­plorable at­tacks” which it said would make peace more dif­fi­cult to achieve.

“Those re­spon­si­ble for these at­tacks must be held ac­count­able,” said Pernille Kardel, the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral’s Deputy Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Afghanistan.

On the same day as the two bomb at­tacks, seven peo­ple were killed in a Tal­iban ground at­tack on a se­cu­rity unit in the highly restive south­ern prov­ince of Hel­mand.

PIC­TURE: AP

Men carry the cof­fin of a rel­a­tive who died in one of Tues­day’s two bomb­ings in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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