Bomb, Gun Attack in Afghan Capital Leaves Dozens Dead, Wounded
Ayaz Gul – VOA News
A powerful car bomb-and-gun attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul Monday morning is said to have killed and wounded dozens of people.
The Taliban insurgency claimed responsibility for plotting the suicide raid against what it said was the logistics and engineering center of the Afghan Defense Ministry.
Residents said Monday’s blast occurred in a central part of the city during morning rush hour, sending a plume of black smoke over Kabul. Witnesses heard gunfire and small explosions as the attack appeared to be continuing.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said in a statement that several gunmen later took positions in a nearby under-construction, multistory building after the blast and started firing at Afghan police forces.
Rahimi added that Afghan special forces reached the site and an operation was underway to neutralize the assailants.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah condemned the Taliban attack, saying it “showcases the group’s inherent criminal nature” and vowed the violence will not deter security forces from pursuing and punishing the “miscreants.”
Ambulances rushed to the scene and ferried at least 65 injured people to hospitals, including at least nine children, the Afghan health ministry spokesman said shortly after the bombing.
Staff at the nearby office building of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) were also among the casualties. Television footage showed the AFF’s acting chief was among those who suffered injuries.
A senior Afghan journalist, Bilal Sarwary, tweeted that the massive blast killed at least 40 people and wounded 80 others, quoting Afghan intelligence, police and government officials.
Authorities in Kabul, however, have not immediately offered any details about whether the blast caused fatalities.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that a vehicle-born bomb was detonated before “multiple” suicide attackers entered the Defense Ministry-related compounded and engaged Afghan security forces.
Mujahid said the raid killed “tens of officers and workers of the Defense Ministry, though the insurgent group often releases inflated claims for such attacks.
The violence coincided with intensified Taliban battlefield attacks across Afghanistan that officials said have killed nearly 100 Afghan security forces in the past two days.
Monday’s attack comes as the Taliban and the United States are engaged in a fresh round of talks aimed at finding a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.