Five UAE diplomats killed in Afghan blast
The United Arab Emirates has said five of its diplomats were killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan, one of the worst attacks to target the Gulf nation's diplomatic corps.
The federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula said it would immediately fly the nation's flag at half-mast in honour of the dead from the Tuesday's attack in Kandahar.
Meanwhile, the Taliban denied planting the bomb in the Kandahar attack, which also wounded the UAE ambassador to Afghanistan.
Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's prime minister and vice president, said on Twitter that "there is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help" others.
The Kandahar attack targeted a guesthouse of provincial governor Homayun Azizia, who was also wounded in the assault, along with UAE ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi.
The Taliban claimed attacks earlier on Tuesday in Kabul that killed at least 38 people and wounded dozens.
But on Wednesday, they issued a short statement blaming an "internal local rivalry" for the Kandahar attack.
The Taliban has denied some attacks in the past that diplomats and security forces later attributed to the group.
An attack inside the heavily-guarded compound would represent a major breach of security, even in Afghanistan, a country long torn by war.
A UAE Foreign Ministry statement earlier said the diplomats were in Kandahar on a humanitarian mission.
Emirati combat troops had been sent to Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.
The UAE had troops for years as part of the Nato-led mission and the Gulf federation also trained members of the Afghan armed forces.
Multiple daily commercial flights link the countries, with Dubai serving as an important commercial hub for Afghan businessmen.