Taliban attack in Kabul draws widespread condemnation
Local officials said 27 people were killed and another 327 were wounded in the suicide car bombing that was followed by a protracted gun-battle between security forces and an unknown number of Taliban gunmen.
The attack began at about 9am with the car suicide bombing that targeted the VIPs protection department near the spy service office and the US Embassy in the limits of the 12th police district.
Kabul 101 Asmai Zone police commander Abdul Rahman Rahimi told reporters that 27 people had been killed and 182 others wounded in the attack. Most of the injured were civilians, including women and children, he added.
But the Public Health Ministry said seven dead bodies and 327 injured people had been delivered at Kabul hospitals with some struggling for life.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the attack, saying provisional information indicated at least two of those killed and the vast majority of the injured were civilians, including seven children and seven women. The civilian casualty toll is expected to rise.
“This attack shows the devastation caused by the use of explosive devices in urban areas and once more demonstrates complete disregard for the lives of Afghan civilians,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“The use of high explosives in civilian populated areas, in circumstances almost certain to cause immense suffering to civilians, may amount to war crimes.”
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack centred around a National Directorate of Security (NDS) office in Puli Mahmud Khan area.
The attack took place during rush hour on a crowded street when a vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated, followed by armed men entering the NDS compound, the UNAMA statement said. The blast caused extensive harm, injuring civilians within a one kilometre radius.
UNAMA reiterated its call for the Taliban to immediately cease all attacks in civilian-populated areas and extended its condolences to the families of those killed and a speedy recovery for those injured. “UNAMA once again affirms its continued support to the people of Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond condemned the appalling attack and extended his condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of those killed and injured in Kabul.
“By rejecting the opportunity to enter peace talks and instead targeting innocent civilians, the Taliban have demonstrated their total disregard for the Afghan people.”
Hammond said the UK stood resolute in support of their Afghan friends and called on the Taliban to end senseless violence against civilians.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that he said killed and wounded many countrymen. “Such cowardly terrorist attacks will not weaken the will and determination of Afghan security forces to fight against terrorism.”
It was the first major attack by the Taliban after announcing the start of their “spring offensive” on Tuesday last week amid the Afghan government’s efforts to bring them back to the negotiating table.
“We extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to those who have lost their loved ones and pray for the early recovery of the injured,” a statement from Pakistan embassy said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister of Pakistan conveyed his immense grief over the heinous terrorist attack that led to the loss of precious lives and left hundreds injured.
In a letter to President Ashraf Ghani, Nawaz Sharif wrote: “On behalf of the people and the government of Pakistan, I strongly condemn this brutal act and offer my heartfelt condolences to Your Excellency and the bereaved families.”
Meanwhile, the commander of Resolute Support also strongly condemned the attack. “Today’s attack shows the insurgents are unable to meet Afghan forces on the battlefield and must resort to these terrorist attacks.”
Gen. John W. Nicholson said: “We strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan’s enemies and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the national unity government.
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