At least 40 people were killed in Kabul after an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in a crowded area. The blast left 140 people wounded, said officials in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
The explosion — one of the biggest since a truck bomb ripped through the Afghan capital’s diplomatic quarter on May 31 last year — triggered chaotic scenes as terrified people fled the area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices.
“The latest toll from Kabul hospitals stands at 40 martyred and 140 wounded,” health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh told the press.
According to the eyewitnesses, the force of the blast shook windows of buildings at least two kilometres away and shattered windows within hundreds of metres of the site. Some low-rise structures in the vicinity of the explosion also collapsed.
“The suicide bomber used an ambulance to pass through the checkpoints. He passed through the first checkpoint saying he was taking a patient to Jamuriate hospital and at the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew his explosive-laden car,” interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told the news agency.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on social media — their second deadly assault in Kabul in the space of a week.
The explosion happened in a busy part of the city where the High Peace Council, which is charged with negotiating with the Taliban, has offices. “It targeted our checkpoint. It was really huge – all our windows are broken,” Hassina Safi, a member of High Peace Council, said.
Members of the European Union’s delegation in Kabul were in their “safe room” and there were no casualties, an official told the press.
The explosion comes exactly a week after Taliban militants stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul, killing at least 22 people, the majority foreigners.
A security alert issued to foreigners this morning had warned that the Islamic State group, which has terrorised the city in recent months, was planning “to conduct aggressive attacks” on supermarkets, shops and hotels frequented by foreigners.
(With inputs from Agencies)