5 dead in blast near Kabul airport, Taliban claims responsibility
At least five people were killed on Monday when a suicide car bomber struck near the entrance of Kabul's international airport, the latest in a wave of lethal bombings in the Afghan capital.Updated: Aug 10, 2015 16:28 IST
At least five people were killed on Monday when a suicide car bomber struck near the entrance of Kabul's international airport, the latest in a wave of lethal bombings in the Afghan capital.
The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the blast, have stepped up attacks amid a bitter leadership transition following the announcement of the death of their leader Mullah Omar.
Observers say the upsurge in violence represents a bid by new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour to distract attention from the crisis roiling the militant movement as planned peace talks falter.
"The incident took place when a suicide car bomber struck the front gate of the airport," said Kabul police spokesperson Ebadullah Karimi.
"Five civilians were killed and 16 others wounded including children," he said, with the interior ministry confirming the toll.
Smoke billowed from the scene of the explosion, which occurred during the busy lunchtime period.
An AFP photographer saw pieces of charred flesh littered around the checkpoint, where passengers undergo the first round of body checks before entering the airport.
Ambulances with wailing sirens rushed to the site and were seen removing bodies from the area, which was strewn with the twisted and mangled wreckage of burning vehicles.Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said two vehicles belonging to foreign coalition forces were the target of the attack, claiming that all people aboard were killed. The Taliban are known to routinely exaggerate the impact of their attacks.
An Afghan policeman near the site of the blast. (AFP Photo)
The Nato mission in Afghanistan has not yet commented on the bombing, which the Afghan interior ministry denounced as a "heinous acts (that goes) against the values of humanity".
The attack follows a barrage of deadly bombings in the Afghan capital on Friday, which struck close to an army complex, a police academy and a US special forces base and killed at least 51 people.
They were the first major attacks since Mullah Akhtar Mansour was named as the new Taliban chief in an acrimonious power transition after the insurgents confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.
Some top leaders of the Islamist insurgency, including Omar's son and brother, have refused to pledge allegiance to Mansour, saying the process to select him was rushed and even biased.
Tayeb Agha, the head of the Qatar political office set up in 2013 to facilitate talks with Kabul, resigned last week in protest at Mansour's appointment and two more members of the office followed suit.
The wave of violence underscores Afghanistan's volatile security situation amid a flailing peace process.
The first face-to-face talks aimed at ending the 14-year insurgency took place last month between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the Pakistani hill town of Murree.
The Taliban distanced themselves from a second round of talks scheduled for the end of July, after the announcement of Omar's death.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed initiating another round of talks in a telephone call Sunday to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a senior official in Islamabad told AFP without elaborating.
Experts say insurgents are stepping up attacks as Mansour tries to distract attention from the internal rifts.
The uptick in violence highlights growing insecurity in the country as Afghan forces face their first summer fighting season without full Nato support.
A UN report published last week said civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2015.
The report said 1,592 civilians were killed, a six percent fall from last year, but the number of injured jumped 4% to 3,329.