Saturday 14 December 2019

Five dead in attack on British embassy convoy near Kabul

The wreckage of a British embassy vehicle after a suicide attack in Kabul. A suicide bomber attacked the vehicle in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing five people, including one Briton, the ministry of interior said
The wreckage of a British embassy vehicle after a suicide attack in Kabul. A suicide bomber attacked the vehicle in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing five people, including one Briton, the ministry of interior said

Tom Phillips

A BRITISH citizen was among at least five people killed when a suicide bomber slammed a car packed with explosives into a convoy belonging to the British embassy in the capital of Afghanistan yesterday.

Rohullah Khan, the local police chief, said the unnamed Briton who worked for the embassy died alongside his interpreter, an Afghan citizen named Tawab.

At least 37 civilians, including a number of children, were reportedly injured in the huge explosion that rocked east Kabul at around 10.25am, pelting nearby buildings with debris and sending a thick column of smoke rising into the air.

The Taliban quickly claimed authorship of the attack.

"I was sitting in my office, working on my computer and suddenly there was a huge blast, followed by what seemed to be an earthquake," said Shahpour Alikhail (32) an employee at a construction business near the scene of the attack.

"My computer fell off the desk and I started running out stepping on the broken windows," he added. "There were many people lying on the ground with blood on their bodies."

Gul Karim (56), who lives in the district of Qabilbai where the attack took place, said: "I was at the house and preparing to go out and heard a very big explosion.

"There were lots of people lying on the ground and screaming. I saw one of my neighbours and a cobbler who used to work in front of the mosque were dead. There were more people killed too."

Mustafa Deveci, a Kabul-based correspondent for the Turkish news agency IHA who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack, said he had seen a severely-damaged armoured vehicle belonging to the British embassy. "It was fully damaged and I am not sure if they (people) left this car injured or dead," he said.

Over the last fortnight there have reportedly been at least four similar attacks in the same region of Kabul, near the "green village" international zone that houses many foreigner workers.

Mr Khan, the police chief responsible for the area, said the attack had taken place on the main road between Kabul and the eastern city of Jalalabad. A suicide bomber drove a Toyota Corolla into the British embassy vehicle and detonated the explosives it was carrying, he said.

"There are young people and kids amongst the wounded," he added.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claiming the group had killed a number of foreigners while deliberately targeting a British convoy.

"A large amount of explosives were placed in the Corolla car, which we used for the attack," he said. "We understand that a number of civilians were also wounded by the broken windows - but the target was the convoy of the British embassy."

Shortly after the attack, human blood, sandals, shoes and mangled car parts could be seen scattered across the vicinity. A small mosque just beside the blast site was also damaged. The power of the explosion had thrown the crumpled British vehicle around 130ft from the original attack site.

In a statement Afghanistan's government confirmed the deaths of at least five people and criticised the Taliban's "inhuman act".

"The Interior Ministry strongly condemns today's attack on the foreign citizens," it said.

Later yesterday an explosion shook houses in the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital was followed by heavy gunfire that could still be heard an hour later, according to Reuters witnesses and security officials.

The blast was caused by another car bomb, according to a military commander, who said the target was a foreign guesthouse in the Wazir Akbar Khan area, where many embassies and international organisations are located. "Two or three insurgents have entered the compound. Our forces are there and the fight is ongoing," the commander of 111 Military Corps Kabul, Qadam Shah Shaheem, said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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