Massive blast devastates Kabul’s embassy district
Deadliest attack in years in heart of capital kills 90
Terrorists detonated a massive truck bomb in the heart of Kabul’s heavily patrolled diplomatic district, in one of the deadliest strikes in the Afghan capital in years.
Witnesses said the bomber drove an explosives-laden sewage tanker truck toward the chain of checkpoints and blast walls ringing the secure Green Zone sector in downtown Kabul, home to the presidential palace as well as to the U.S. and other foreign embassies. After attempting to breach the secure zone, the bomber detonated his deadly ordnance near the German Embassy as the surrounding streets were packed with rush-hour traffic.
An estimated 90 people were killed and over 400 wounded, including 11 American contractors, in the aftermath of one of the worst suicide attacks to hit the capital since U.S. and NATO forces ended combat operations in 2014. Officials from the Ministry of Health fear the death toll could surge to over 100, according to local reports.
Also among the dead were 10 Afghan security guards — nine assigned to the U.S. Embassy, while one worked for Germany. The Chinese, Turkish, French, Indian and Japanese embassies and consulates were also damaged, eyewitnesses said.
The blast came days after NATO leaders from Germany and other allied nations met with President Trump in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the way ahead in Afghanistan, already the longest conflict in American history. The U.S.-backed government in Kabul has been unable to subdue the Islamist Taliban movement, while a new threat has emerged as elements of Islamic State have entered the fight.
The Afghan economy is weak, and the national military and police forces have yet to prove able to defeat the insurgents.
“The attack demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people,” command officials from Operation Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in the country, said in a statement Wednesday.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, visited the bomb site, which was near the command’s headquarters, also located inside the Green Zone.
Berlin suspended deportations of Afghans who had been denied asylum in Germany in the wake of the attack, The Associated Press reported. The decision was not a sign of a possible change in policy toward Afghan refugees, Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said.
In Washington, President Trump expressed his condolences over the attack to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a phone call Wednesday, while Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson called the bombing a “senseless and cowardly act,” vowing the attack would not destabilize Washington’s “unwavering” commitment to its mission in the country.
The Taliban immediately denied it carried out the attack, in which the majority of the victims were women and children, issuing a statement it had no connection to the bomber or his accomplices. A statement by National Security Directorate, Afghanistan’s intelligence services, claimed the attack was the work of the Pakistani-based terror group known as the Haqqani network.
Operating from safe havens in northwest Pakistan’s infamous North Waziristan region, the Haqqani network earned a reputation throughout the war for its savage attacks against American, Afghan and allied troops, mainly in eastern and central Afghanistan. Kabul has also alleged the group receives training and support from Pakistan’s intelligence services.
“These terrorists once again proved they don’t represent any religion and they only carry out such coward[ly] attacks to please their Pakistani masters which is against all Islamic and human rights principals,” Afghan intelligence officials said in a statement Wednesday.
A crater was created by a massive explosion in front of the German Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday. The suicide truck bomb hit a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul, killing scores of people and wounding hundreds more. The Chinese, Turkish and Japanese embassies were also damaged.