Taliban bombs crowded central Kabul area; 30 dead

RSTV Bureau
Kabul : An Afghan soldier responds to a Taliban-claimed suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. Taliban insurgents have stepped up their attacks against the security forces since announcing the start of their spring offensive last week. AP/PTI

Kabul : An Afghan soldier responds to a Taliban-claimed suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 19, 2016. Taliban insurgents have stepped up their attacks against the security forces since announcing the start of their spring offensive last week. AP/PTI

A powerful truck bomb exploded in a crowded neighbourhood in central Kabul on Tuesday morning, killing at least 30 people and injuring more than 180 people. Many of the injured are said to be in a critical state.

Afghan officials claimed the target of the attack was a government office responsible for providing security to government VIPs.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the brazen attack near the defence ministry. This is the first major Taliban attack in the Afghan capital since the insurgents announced the start of their offensive.

“One of the suicide attackers blew up an explosives-laden truck in a public parking lot next to a government building,” Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told reporters.

“As a result 30 people were killed, most of them civilians. The second attacker engaged security forces in a gunbattle before being gunned down.”

The gunfight continued for several hours near the government building which was cordoned off. At that time security officials were concerned that there might be other bombers on the loose.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed their fighters had managed to enter the offices of the National Directorate of Security, the main spy agency. But the Afghan authorities denied this claim.

The interior ministry denounced the attack as a “war crime” and pledged to track down the perpetrators.

“(We) condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist attack in Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of Kabul, as a result of which many of our countrymen were martyred and wounded,” President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement.

“Such cowardly terrorist attacks will not weaken the will and determination of Afghan security forces to fight against terrorism.”

Last week on Tuesday, the Taliban announced the start of their “spring offensive” even as the government was looking to bring them back to the negotiating table to end the drawn-out conflict.

(With inputs from agencies)