Blasts rock charity and bridge in Kabul; 24 die

Afghan security personnel keeping watch at the entrance of a charity organisation, after an attack by an armed group at the CARE International compound in Kabul. The assault, which started with a car bombing, began late on Monday and lasted till Tues
Afghan security personnel keeping watch at the entrance of a charity organisation, after an attack by an armed group at the CARE International compound in Kabul. The assault, which started with a car bombing, began late on Monday and lasted till Tuesday morning.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KABUL • Explosions rang out during an hours-long attack on an international charity in Kabul, the latest assault in a wave of violence in the Afghan capital that has killed at least 24 people and wounded dozens.

The assault on CARE International began late on Monday with a massive car bombing, just hours after the Taleban carried out a brazen double suicide attack near the defence ministry.

A plume of smoke rose over the upscale neighbourhood of Shar-e Naw after the raid on the charity, located next to the office of Afghanistan's former intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil.

It remains unclear which compound was the intended target of the attack, which left piles of rubble and shards of broken glass strewn across the area.

"An armed group launched an attack on what is believed to have been an Afghan government compound located close to the Kabul office of CARE," the charity said, adding that staff had been evacuated.

DEADLY EXPLOSIONS

An armed group launched an attack on what is believed to have been an Afghan government compound located close to the Kabul office of CARE.

CARE INTERNATIONAL

"The incident continued through the early Tuesday morning with damages sustained to the CARE compound."

The interior ministry said 42 people including 10 foreigners were rescued and added that no one was killed in the attack, revising its earlier toll of one fatality.

"Our new investigation shows... only six people were wounded," the ministry said in a statement, adding that all three assailants had been gunned down by Afghan forces.

No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, but it came as the Taleban ramped up its nationwide offensive against the US-backed government. The attack had been preceded by twin Taleban blasts that killed at least 24 people during the city's rush hour on Monday, including high-level officials, and left 91 others wounded.

The second of the two explosions struck just as soldiers, policemen and civilians hurried to help victims of the first blast, which occurred on a bridge near the ministry.

High-level defence officials were among those killed, including a young military officer whose mother reportedly died of a heart attack when she heard of his death.

Firemen retrieved some bodies thrown into the Kabul River by the intensity of the first blast on the bridge.

Afghan forces backed by US troops are trying to head off a potential Taleban takeover of Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern opium-rich province of Helmand.

Taleban militants have also recently closed in on Kunduz - the northern city they briefly seized last year in their biggest military victory since the 2001 US invasion - leaving Afghan forces stretched on multiple fronts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'Blasts rock charity and bridge in Kabul; 24 die'. Print Edition | Subscribe