Pow­er­ful truck bomb kills 15, wounds 240 in Kabul


A huge truck bomb tore through cen­tral Kabul Fri­day, killing 15 civil­ians and wound­ing 240 oth­ers in the first ma­jor at­tack in the Afghan cap­i­tal since the an­nounce­ment of Tal­iban leader Mul­lah Omar’s death.

No group im­me­di­ately claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which came as the Tal­iban steps up their sum­mer of­fen­sive de­spite a bit­ter power tran­si­tion within the mil­i­tant move­ment.

A truck packed with ex­plo­sives det­o­nated just af­ter mid­night near an army base in the neigh­bor­hood of Shah Sha­heed, rat­tling homes across the city, rip­ping off the fa­cades of build­ings and leav­ing scat­tered piles of rub­ble.

The force of the ex­plo­sion creat- ed an enor­mous crater in the road, around 10 me­ters ( 30 feet) deep, and de­stroyed the bound­ary wall of the base, although no mil­i­tary ca­su­al­ties were re­ported.

“The death toll from the early Fri­day at­tack ... has risen to 15,” deputy pres­i­den­tial spokesman Sayed Za­far Hashemi told AFP, adding that “more than 240 peo­ple have been wounded.”

The health min­istry said the num­ber of wounded could run even higher, with most suf­fer­ing in­juries from fly­ing glass.

Kabul po­lice chief Gen. Ab­dul Rah­man Rahimi said of­fi­cials were search­ing for any­one trapped un­der the man­gled con­crete de­bris.

“The killed and wounded in­clude women and chil­dren, and la­bor­ers of a nearby mar­ble stone com­pany are among the vic­tims. The at­tack was in­tended to cause mass mur­der,” he said.

Sol­diers erected a se­cu­rity cordon around the mil­i­tary base close to Shah Sha­heed, a largely mid­dle- class civil­ian residential area with no ma­jor for­eign pres­ence.

The wounded were over­whelm­ing city hos­pi­tals, of­fi­cials said, with re­ports emerg­ing of blood short­ages and ur­gent ap­peals for donors cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial media.

The car­nage comes a day af­ter Tal­iban in­sur­gents killed nine peo­ple in mul­ti­ple at­tacks on po­lice tar­gets, in­clud­ing a truck bomb­ing in the volatile eastern province of Logar.

The at­tacks high­light grow­ing in­se­cu­rity in the coun­try amid a fal­ter­ing peace process with the Tal­iban as Afghan forces face their first sum­mer fight­ing sea­son with­out full NATO sup­port.

‘Con­temptible act’

The NATO mis­sion in Afghanistan con­demned Fri­day’s bomb­ing as a “con­temptible act of vi­o­lence.”

Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid told AFP he was “un­aware” of the Kabul bomb­ing. The mil­i­tants are known to dis­tance them­selves from at­tacks that re­sult in a large num­ber of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties.

A U. N. re­port pub­lished Wed­nes­day said civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2015.

The re­port said 1,592 civil­ians were killed, a six per­cent fall from last year, but the num­ber of in­jured jumped four per­cent to 3,329.

Over­all, ca­su­al­ties reached their high­est level since the U.N. be­gan is­su­ing its au­thor­i­ta­tive re­ports in 2009.

The sta­tis­tics are a grim in­di­ca­tor of the ex­pand­ing in­sur­gency, with Afghan forces in­creas­ingly bat­tling the mil­i­tants on their own af­ter NATO’s com­bat mis­sion ended in De­cem­ber.

U.S.-led NATO forces still have a 13,000-strong resid­ual force for train­ing and counter-ter­ror­ism oper­a­tions.

The Tal­iban face grow­ing in­ter­nal di­vi­sions af­ter Mul­lah Akhtar Man­sour was an­nounced as the new head of the in­sur­gent move­ment last week.

This came shortly af­ter the Tal­iban’s con­fir­ma­tion of the death of Mul­lah Omar, who led the mil­i­tant move­ment for some 20 years.


Afghan peo­ple gather at the site of a car bomb at­tack in Kabul, Fri­day, Aug. 7.

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