Thursday, 1 June 2017
90 killed in Kabul blast: Afghan intel says attack planned by Haqqani network, ISI
A powerful bomb hidden in a sewage tanker exploded in the highly secure diplomatic quarter of Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing 90 people and demonstrating that the holy month of Ramzan would provide little respite from the violence across Afghanistan. The blast in the heart of the Afghan capital injured 400 people and damaged the embassies of India, Bulgaria, France, Japan, Turkey and the UAE. It also destroyed or damaged more than 50 vehicles and shattered windows of buildings located hundreds of metres away. India’s ambassador Manpreet Vohra said the bomb went off nearly 100 metres from the country’s embassy, causing “considerable damage” but all members of the staff were safe.
The National Directorate of Security said on Wednesday evening the attack was planned by the Haqqani Network in Pakistan with the “direct help” of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, according to Afghan media. The Taliban denied responsibility and said they condemned attacks that have no legitimate target and killed civilians.
The government’s media centre said: “In this powerful attack, 90 people have been killed and 400 wounded, including many women and children.” Health officials warned the toll could climb further. The target of the explosion in Wazir Akbar Khan area was not immediately known and officials said it was caused by 1,500 kg of explosives hidden in the sewage tanker. The attack took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour, when roads were packed with commuters.
The bomb killed an Afghan security guard at the German embassy and injured some staff, foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter. BBC News said an Afghan driver was killed and four journalists were wounded but their injuries were not life threatening. Tolo News tweeted a technical staff, Aziz Navin, was killed. Some reports said a suicide bomber detonated the explosives-packed vehicle in Zanbaq Square around 8.30am. The NATO-led Resolute Support mission said Afghan security forces prevented the vehicle from entering the heavily protected Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies as well as its headquarters, suggesting it may not have reached its intended target.
Bodies littered the scene and a huge plume of smoke rose from the area. Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety, with men and woman struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones. Germany, Japan and Pakistan said some of their embassy employees and staff were hurt in the explosion.
“The attack took place very close to the German embassy. It hit civilians and those who are in Afghanistan to work for a better future for the country with the people there. It’s especially contemptible that these people were the target,” German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel tweeted.