At least 63 people were killed and over 150 injured after an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in a crowded area near a police checkpoint close to foreign embassies and official government buildings on Saturday, Reuters reported. The attacker struck near the old interior ministry building, interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP.
According to a health ministry official, the death toll may rise further. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast – one of the biggest since a truck bomb ripped through the Afghan capital’s diplomatic quarter on May 31 last year – led to chaotic scenes as panic-stricken people fled the area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices.
Member of Parliament Mirwais Yasini, who witnessed the blast, recounted that an ambulance neared the police checkpoint and exploded. He said he saw ‘a number of people lying on the ground’. A spokesperson from the public health ministry said several people had been killed and many wounded in the blast.
Nasrat Rahimi told AFP: “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.”
An AFP reporter said he saw “lots of dead and wounded” people in a nearby hospital. The force of the blast shattered windows of surrounding buildings while causing few low-rise structures to collapse. As the number of wounded persons increased, Jumuriate hospital witnessed chaotic scenes outside as nurses and doctors rushed to treat the wounded lying in the corridors. Civilians near the blast site walked through debris-covered streets carrying wounded people on their backs even as ambulances loaded several bodies at a time to ferry them to the nearest medical facilities around the city.
The blast went off in a busy part of the city where the High Peace Council has offices. Kabul police headquarters is also located here in the vicinity of the blast. Hassina Safi, a member of a High Peace Council, an organisation that is charged with negotiating with the Taliban, told AFP: “It targeted our checkpoint. It was really huge — all our windows are broken.” He said he didn’t know yet if any of their members are wounded or killed.
Earlier today, a security alert was issued to foreigners warning that the Islamic State, which has terrorised the city in recent months, was planning “to conduct aggressive attacks” on supermarkets, shops and hotels frequented by foreigners.
Earlier this week on Tuesday, a raid by the Taliban on a high end hotel had killed atleast 20 people, including 13 foreigners. In another attack on the Afghan soil, an office of the Save the Children aid agency in Jalalabad had been targetted by militants wounding 11 people, reported Reuters quoting local sources.
Wounded people are assisted at the site of an explosion in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. The Interior Ministry says a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul has left dozens wounded. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A wounded man is assisted at the site of an explosion in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. The Interior Ministry says a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul has left dozens wounded. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A wounded man is assisted at the site of an explosion in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. The Interior Ministry says a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul leaves dozens wounded. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
A child watches as Afghan security personnel patrol the site of a deadly suicide attack in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor said a group of gunmen stormed the office of the non-governmental organization, Save the Children. (AP Photo)