Bomber kills 24 peo­ple in Kabul

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - KATHY GANNON AND AMIR SHAH

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Tal­iban sui­cide bomber killed 24 peo­ple in a morn­ing as­sault in a neigh­bor­hood where prom­i­nent politi­cians re­side, caus­ing res­i­dents and an­a­lysts to ques­tion the govern­ment’s abil­ity to pro­tect Afghanistan’s cap­i­tal.

An­other 42 peo­ple were in­jured in the at­tack that took place dur­ing morn­ing rush hour Mon­day as govern­ment em­ploy­ees and stu­dents made their way to work and school. Plumes of black smoke were seen bil­low­ing sky­ward out­side the en­trance to a pri­vate high school. Stu­dents in nearby dor­mi­to­ries were in­jured by fly­ing glass.

Sev­eral cars were de­stroyed and small shops that lined the busy street were dec­i­mated and many of the oc­cu­pants within killed.

The sui­cide bomber had rammed his ex­plo­sive-laden car into a minibus car­ry­ing em­ploy­ees of the mines and pe­tro­leum min­istry, said Kabul po­lice chief spokesman Basir Mu­ja­hed.

In a state­ment to the me­dia the Tal­iban took re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ing say­ing the tar­get was the em­ploy­ees of the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices. Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid, the Tal­iban spokesman, said in­sur­gents had spent the last two months in Kabul shad­ow­ing in­tel­li­gence ser­vices em­ploy­ees be­fore strik­ing early Mon­day.

An­a­lysts said wide­spread cor­rup­tion, rife within the govern­ment and the se­cu­rity forces, makes keep­ing Kabul safe a dif­fi­cult job.

“You can bring any amount of ex­plo­sives into the city if you have money. Cor­rup­tion is the big prob­lem,” Kabul-based se­cu­rity an­a­lyst Wa­heed Muzhda said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “Any group, even a small group, can bring weapons, am­mu­ni­tion to any­where in the city.”

Last year Afghanistan was ranked as one of the world’s most cor­rupt coun­tries ac­cord­ing to Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional.

The west­ern Kabul neigh­bor­hood where the at­tack oc­curred is home to many prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, such as Hazara leader Mo­ham­mad Mo­haqiq. It has also been the site of sev­eral pre­vi­ous at­tacks, in­clud­ing the sui­cide at­tack last month that killed prom­i­nent Shi­ite Mus­lim cleric Ra­mazan Hus­sain­zada, who was also a se­nior leader of the eth­nic Hazara com­mu­nity.

Kabul has been bat­tered by ex­plo­sions claimed by the Tal­iban and by the Is­lamic State group’s af­fil­i­ate in Afghanistan. On May 31, the Afghan cap­i­tal saw its worst sui­cide at­tack since the Tal­iban’s col­lapse in 2001 — an at­tack that killed 150 peo­ple and wounded scores.

In a state­ment the In­te­rior Min­istry called Mon­day’s at­tack “a crim­i­nal act against hu­man­ity.”

In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Na­jib Dan­ish said po­lice were work­ing around the clock to keep the cap­i­tal se­cure, how­ever he said in­tel­li­gence to thwart at­tacks also re­quired the public’s co­op­er­a­tion. Res­i­dents have to help the se­cu­rity forces, he said.

A sec­ond se­cu­rity an­a­lyst, who also served as gov­er­nor of Ku­nar and Herat, Sayed Fa­zlul­lah Wahidi said a grow­ing mis­trust of the govern­ment by many Afghans has helped in­sur­gents.

“The po­lice are cor­rupt, the se­cu­rity peo­ple are cor­rupt and the peo­ple are against the govern­ment, all this to­gether makes it easy for the Tal­iban,” said Wahidi.

The Tal­iban said the at­tack was car­ried out by an in­sur­gent iden­ti­fied only as Ah­mad and the tar­get of the bomb­ing was the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices and their em­ploy­ees. Tal­iban spokesman Mu­jahid claimed the bus was filled with em­ploy­ees of the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices say­ing 37 peo­ple were killed, but the Tal­iban of­ten ex­ag­ger­ate their bat­tle­field gains and death tolls.

Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani con­demned the bomb­ing. “Once again, these ter­ror­ist are at­tack­ing civil­ians and tar­get­ing govern­ment staff,” Ghani said in a state­ment.

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