Saturday 14 December 2019

Taliban suicide bomber kills 14 Nepalese guards in Kabul minibus attack

Afghan police soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul in which a number of Nepalese security guards were killed (AP)
Afghan police soldiers inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul in which a number of Nepalese security guards were killed (AP)

A Taliban suicide bomber has killed 14 Nepalese security guards in an attack on a minibus in Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a motorbike killed 10 Afghan civilians during the morning rush hour in a busy market in a province in the country's north-east.

And later in Kabul, a second Taliban bombing killed an Afghan civilian and injured five people, including a provincial council member who was the intended target of the attack, according to authorities.

The Nepalese were on their way to the Canadian Embassy where they work as guards when the explosion took place on Monday morning, according to a Nepalese guard who was hurt in the attack.

The attack was the latest to hit Kabul as the Taliban has stepped up its assaults as part of a summer offensive. The insurgents frequently target government employees and Afghan security forces across the country.

In the bombing that killed the Nepalese, the bomber was on foot when he struck the minibus, said General Abdul Rahman Rahimi, the city's police chief.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry confirmed that all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a "terrorist suicide bomber". It said the explosion also injured nine people, five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.

Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese guard wounded in the attack, said they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy when the blast took place.

Abdullah Abdullah, the country's chief executive officer, condemned the attack on Twitter, saying: "This attack is an act of terror and intimidation."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to the media.

In Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal, spokesman for Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government is aware of the incident in Kabul and is trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing. Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he said.

In a conflicting statement, Afghanistan's Islamic State affiliate also claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, identifying the suicide bomber as Erfanullah Ahmed and saying he carried out the attack by detonating his explosives belt.

Insurgents frequently target buses with government employees - or those perceived to be working for the Kabul government. In late May, a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees during morning rush hour in Kabul, killing 11 people - judges and court employees. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack as well.

In the northeastern Badakhshan province, the parked motorbike-bomb that killed at least 10 Afghan civilians on Monday also wounded 40 others, according to Naved Froutan, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The explosion took place in the main bazaar in Kashim district, he said, adding that "an investigation is under way to determine the target of the attack, but all victims of the attack are civilians". He added that women and children were among those killed and hurt in the attack.

A Taliban spokesman denied any involvement by the insurgents in the blast in Badakhshan, though Taliban are active in the area and regularly target Afghan security forces there.

The second blast in Kabul took place near the home of Mawlavi Attaullah Faizani, a member of the Kabul provincial council, said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Afghan interior minister.

Mr Sediqqi said the bomb went off as Mr Faizani was passing by in his vehicle. The Taliban confirmed it had targeted the provincial council member.

Afghan President Asharf Ghani condemned all three of Monday's attacks. Mr Ghani said "terrorists do not hesitate to kill people even during the holy month of Ramadan" and that they are seeking to "create fear among the people".

Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion condemned the attacks, including the one that killed the security guards, and offered condolences.

"Many of the victims have been part of our embassy family for years, and they will be remembered for their service in the protection of the men and women at the Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan," Mr Dion said.

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