Taliban Kabul attack, 28 killed

  • 20/04/2016
Security forces inspect the site of the attack in Kabul (Reuters)
Security forces inspect the site of the attack in Kabul (Reuters)

A Taliban suicide bomb and gun assault on a government security building during morning rush hour in central Kabul has killed at least 28 people and wounded more than 320, in the deadliest single attack in the Afghan capital since 2011.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned Tuesday's assault "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement from the presidential palace, only a few hundred metres away from the blast.

The insurgency led by the Taliban has gained strength since the withdrawal of most international combat troops at the end of 2014, and the Islamist group is believed to be stronger than at any point since it was driven from power by US-backed forces in 2001.

With nerves on edge in Kabul, a second explosion hit the city in the evening but no serious casualties were reported from the blast, which was caused by an improvised device, according to Interior Minister spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were among those killed and wounded in the morning blast, when a suicide car-bomber blew himself up outside the wall of a National Directorate of Security (NDS) office.

"I was here when a huge explosion happened," said Amir, who works in a nearby restaurant. "I saw three boys with severe head injuries. My uncle was injured and my brother is missing, I don't know what happened to him."

It was the worst single militant strike in Kabul since 2011, when about 60 people died in a suicide blast outside a mosque, and will reinforce concerns in Afghanistan and the West that the country is being dragged into a worsening spiral of violence.

Rahimi said one attacker had tried to slip into the NDS building through a destroyed wall after the blast, but he was discovered and killed.

The Taliban said on their Pashto-language website that they had carried out the suicide bombing on "Department 10", an NDS unit responsible for protecting government ministers and VIPs.

They said a suicide car bomber blew up the main gate at the front of the office, allowing other fighters, including more suicide bombers, to enter the heavily guarded compound.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a separate statement that the attackers engaged in a gun battle with Afghan security forces inside the building. He said as many as 92 security staff and soldiers were killed.

The Islamist group often exaggerates details of attacks against government and military targets.

The nearby US embassy and the NATO mission both said they were not affected by the blast.