Perpetrators Unknown A Day After Massive Kabul Attack
RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan June 01, 2017
One day after a massive truck bombing that killed at least 90 people and wounded more than 400 in Kabul's diplomatic quarter, no group has stepped forward to claim responsibility.
A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, flatly denied responsibility for the May 31 attack and said the group condemned any untargeted attacks that caused civilian casualties.
But Reuters reported that Afghanistan's main intelligence agency, the National Directorate for Security, believes it was carried out by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network with assistance from Pakistan -- a charge also leveled by some former Afghan officials.
Neighboring Pakistan has condemned the "terrorist attack" in a statement from the Foreign Ministry voicing solidarity with Afghanistan.
No word was heard from the extremist Islamic State group, which has previously staged major attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and was behind other high-profile attacks in Kabul this year, including one on a military hospital in March that killed more than 50 people.
The gruesome killings prompted an outpouring of sympathy and outrage from around the world.
The UN Security Council condemned them as "heinous and cowardly," and urged all countries to cooperate with the Afghan government in identifying and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The 15-member council also reaffirmed on May 31 that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, a statement said.
Kabul police said the explosives were hidden in a tanker truck that exploded in the Wazir Akbar Khan area during the morning rush hour.
Many of dead and wounded were women and children, the Afghan government said. The Health Ministry warned that the toll could rise as more bodies were pulled from the debris.
Interior Ministry deputy spokesman Najib Danish told RFE/RL that more than 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged. Several houses were also damaged, Danish said.
"We are very sad for the killed and wounded people," said Jawid, a Kabul resident. "It is inhumane to commit such acts of terror even during [the holy month of] Ramadan and cause such distress and grief."
The NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission said Afghan security forces had blocked the truck before entering the heavily protected Green Zone where many foreign embassies as well as its headquarters are located, suggesting the explosion may not have reached its intended target.
Many of the dead and wounded were Afghan civilians but foreign nationals were also injured, and the blast prompted widespread condemnation.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani slammed the attack as a "war crime."
U.S. President Donald Trump called Ghani to offer his condolences and support, the Afghan president's spokesman said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that "the United States strongly condemns today's deadly attack in Kabul."
"In the face of this senseless and cowardly act, the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan is unwavering; the United States stands with the government and the people of Afghanistan and will continue to support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country," the statement said.
Nine Afghan guards at the U.S. Embassy were killed and 11 American contractors wounded in the attack, the State Department said. One other Afghan guard was reported missing.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said employees at the German Embassy were injured and one Afghan security guard was killed.
The BBC said an Afghan driver was killed and four of its journalists were injured.
Iran's official news agency, IRNA, said the residence of the Iranian ambassador was heavily damaged and part of the diplomatic compound was destroyed.
The French, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Kazakh embassies reportedly sustained some damage too, but no staff injuries were reported.
The NATO statement praised "the courage of Afghan Security Forces, especially the police and first responders."
Amnesty International called the attack "a horrific act of violence and a heartbreaking reminder of the toll that Afghan civilians continue to pay in a conflict where armed groups deliberately target them and the government fails to protect them."
The blast was the latest in a series of attacks in the Afghan capital. Kabul province had the highest number of casualties in the first three months of 2017 as a result of multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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