Wed | Feb 21, 2018

95 dead as suicide bomber strikes if Afghanistan

Published:Sunday | January 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM
An injured man is moved to a stretcher outside a hospital following a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP):

A suicide bomber drove an ambulance into a commercial area by pretending to be carrying a patient to a hospital and then detonated his explosives at a checkpoint near the European Union consulate, killing at least 95 people and wounding 158 more in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

Yesterday's powerful explosion, which came a week after Taliban militants killed 22 people at an international hotel in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, was felt throughout the city and covered the blast area in smoke and dust.

Dozens of vehicles were damaged or destroyed, and several shops, including some selling antiques and photography equipment, were decimated.

Windows at the nearby Jamhuriat government hospital were shattered, and its walls were damaged. People ran out to help, and ambulances arrived to transport dozens of wounded people to hospitals.

The attacker used the ambulance to coast through one security checkpoint in central Kabul by telling police he was transporting a patient and then detonated his explosives at a second checkpoint.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres quickly condemned the attack, saying through a spokesman that "indiscriminate attacks against civilians ... can never be justified."

US Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass called the attack "senseless and cowardly".

And the International Committee of the Red Cross seethed that the ambulance attack was "unacceptable and unjustifiable," saying in a tweet: "The use of an ambulance in today's attack in #Kabul is harrowing."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the Taliban's use of an ambulance as a weapon to target civilians "represents inhumane disregard for the people of Afghanistan ... and is a violation of the most basic international norms."