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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

‘Have no security, no proper govt’: Shocked, pained Kabul comes to terms with attack

It has been a month of relentless attacks in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate making alternate claims of responsibility.

world Updated: Jan 28, 2018 15:38 IST
Reuters, Kabul

Kabul reacted in despair and fear on Sunday, a day after a suicide bomb in the centre of the city killed and wounded nearly 250 people in the worst attack seen in the Afghan capital in months.

With security officials warning that more attacks were possible after an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in a crowded city street on Saturday, there was a mix of helpless anger at the seemingly endless wave of attacks.

“How are we to live? Where should we go?” asked shopkeeper Mohammad Hanif, who was in his shop near the site of the explosion when it went off.

“We have no security, we don’t have no proper government, what should we do?” he said.

News agency AP quoted Afghan official saying that at least 103 people were killed and 235 wounded in the blast, which was claimed by the Taliban, a week after they claimed a deadly attack on the city’s Intercontinental Hotel.

Afghan police officers keep watch at a car bomb attack site in Kabul, Afghanistan January 27, 2018.
Afghan police officers keep watch at a car bomb attack site in Kabul, Afghanistan January 27, 2018. ( Reuters Photo )

It was the worst attack seen in the Afghan capital since a truck bomb near the German embassy killed 150 people in May.

“People were running everywhere to escape, there were wounded people lying on the ground, people with wounds to their arms, legs, heads,” Hanif said.

After a deadly week in which an office of the aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad was also attacked, President Ashraf Ghani’s Western-backed government has faced growing pressure to improve security.

Despite a major tightening in checks following the May 31 attack, the ambulance was able to get through the checkpoints, apparently without difficulty.

“People don’t have work, there’s no life for people in Afghanistan, people have to look for a life somewhere else, there’s nowhere,” said shopkeeper Sameem.

The attack, described as “an atrocity” by the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, drew universal condemnation from allies and neighbouring countries.

US President Donald Trump, who last year sent more American troops to Afghanistan and ordered an increase in air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces, said the attack “renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners”.

US officials have said that the new strategy is putting pressure on the Taliban.

Following a recent visit to Kabul, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the strategy was working and pushing the insurgents closer to peace talks.

However, the Taliban have dismissed any suggestion that they have been weakened by the US approach and say they will only agree to talks when international forces leave Afghanistan.

The attack, in one of the most heavily protected parts of the city, close to foreign embassies and government buildings, demonstrated that their ability to mount deadly high profile attacks that undermine confidence in the government remains undiminished.

First Published: Jan 28, 2018 12:22 IST

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