Taleban says it is behind Kabul truck bomb attack

Afghan private security guards investigate the site of a powerful truck bomb attack a day after it detonated near a foreign compound in Kabul, on Jan 15, 2019.
Afghan private security guards investigate the site of a powerful truck bomb attack a day after it detonated near a foreign compound in Kabul, on Jan 15, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

KABUL • The Taleban yesterday claimed responsibility for a powerful truck bomb in Kabul that ripped through surrounding neighbourhoods, killing at least four people including an Indian national, and wounding more than 100 in the latest assault on the Afghan capital.

In a grim message, the militants also vowed to carry out more attacks in the city in direct response to the recent appointment of former spymaster and anti-Taleban veteran Amrullah Saleh as interior minister.

The explosion near the heavily fortified Green Village foreign compound on Monday evening shook Kabul and comes as diplomats ramp up efforts to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan, which by some estimates was the world's deadliest conflict last year.

The force of the blast was felt across the sprawling city, initially causing confusion about the exact location of the attack. It shattered the windows of surrounding houses and shops.

Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told journalists on WhatsApp that four attackers blew up an explosives-packed truck before entering Green Village and "killing many" foreigners.

Four people, including three guards and one civilian, have been confirmed dead and 113 wounded, the Health Ministry said. An Indian national was among those killed, India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said most of the victims were Afghan civilians.

 
 
 

Until recently, some United Nations staff had lived and worked at Green Village, which is heavily protected by cement blast walls.

But Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said earlier the compound was now largely empty and "only a number of guards" were left.

The latest bombing comes as US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visits the region for further meetings aimed at bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Mr Khalilzad, who met Taleban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, is travelling to Afghanistan as well as China, India and Pakistan on the trip lasting up till Jan 21.

"As we are trying to reach a regional consensus on peace, the enemy is trying to sabotage it," said National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib on social media.

"I strongly condemn this attack and promise I will seriously investigate and avenge it," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Taleban says it is behind Kabul truck bomb attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe