95 killed, more than 150 wounded in Kabul ambulance bombing, Taliban claim responsibility

A suicide bomber drove an ambulance to get through a security checkpoint in Kabul, and then detonated his explosives at a second checkpoint, near a locality where foreign embassies and government buildings are situated.

A man reacts after hearing his son was killed during a car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan January 27, 2018.
A suicide bomber driving an ambulance killed at least 95 people and wounded 158 more in an attack claimed by the Taliban in the Afghan capital Kabul, authorities said. The bombing Saturday came just a week after Taliban militants killed 22 at an international hotel in the city.
It has been a month of relentless attacks in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate making alternate claims of responsibility.
The brutality and frequency of the attacks, including one in December at a Shiite cultural centre has shattered Afghanistan’s usually quiet winter fighting season. The attacks have infuriated Afghans, frustrated by the worsening security after 16 years of war. They have expressed their anger with neighbour Pakistan for harbouring insurgents and with the US-led coalition for its inability to suppress the insurgency. They have also blamed the deteriorating security situation on a deeply divided government embroiled in political feuding that has paralysed Parliament.
The attacker on Saturday used the ambulance to get through a security checkpoint in central Kabul, telling police he was taking a patient to a nearby hospital, said Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the interior ministry. He then detonated his explosives at a second checkpoint, Rahimi said.
The health ministry said 95 were killed and 158 wounded.
“The majority of the dead in the attack are civilians, but of course we have military casualties as well,” Rahimi said. He said four suspects had been arrested and were being questioned but he didn’t elaborate.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the bombing, which sent thick, black smoke into the sky from the site near the government’s former interior ministry building. Also nearby are the European Union and Indian consulates.
The blast occurred in an area in Kabul where foreign embassies and government buildings are located.
In a statement, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the deadly attack in Kabul. “Indiscriminate attacks against civilians ... can never be justified,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan John R Bass condemned the attack as “senseless and cowardly”.
The powerful explosion was felt throughout the capital and covered the blast area in smoke and dust. At the scene, dozens of vehicles were damaged or destroyed. Several shops, including some selling antiques and photography equipment, were also destroyed.
Resources : Hindustan Times

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