Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kabul Blast Kills 80 People With 350 Injured

Kabul blast: Suicide car bomb injures many near embassies

At least 80 people -including a BBC driver - are dead and 350 more are injured after a massive bomb concealed in a water tanker ripped through Kabul's diplomatic quarter this morning.
Bodies littered the street and a towering plume of smoke could be seen over the Afghan capital after the truck attack blew out the windows in a number of foreign missions and residences nearby.
Officials said most of the casualties this morning were civilians and 'many women and children' were among the victims.
This morning, it emerged that BBC Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir had been killed in the explosion and that four BBC journalists have been wounded. Their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
A number of employees at the German consulate have also been hurt and an Afghan security guard stationed outside the building was killed in the suicide bomb, which was also close to the British, French and US embassies.
The Afghan Taliban this morning denied responsibility for the attack, which comes just days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. No group immediately claimed to have carried out the atrocity, but both the Taliban and ISIS have staged large-scale attacks in Kabul in the past. 

Amid the chaos and confusion in the aftermath of the blast this morning, officials initially said 50 had been killed. Reuters later reported the country's health ministry as saying the death toll was at least 80.
The blast, which shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of yards away, was unusually strong, with some reports saying it was caused by explosives concealed in a water tanker.
A statement from the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Kabul said Afghan security forces had prevented the vehicle from entering the heavily protected Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies as well as RS headquarters, suggesting it may not have reached its intended target.
The explosion caused carnage during rush hour when roads are packed with worktime commuters.
The interior ministry was calling on Kabul residents to donate blood this morning, saying hospitals were in 'dire need'. 
A statement from the Ministry of Interior Affairs says it 'condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack' that killed so many, including women and children.
'These heinous acts go against the values of humanity as well values of peaceful Afghans,' the statement added. 'These attacks also demonstrate the extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent civilians.'
It appeared to have gone off close to a busy intersection in the Wazir Akbar Khan district but Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, did not have a more precise location.

The neighbourhood is considered Kabul's safest area, with foreign embassies protected by dozens of 10-foot-high blast walls and government offices, guarded by police and national security forces. 
The German Embassy, the Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Palace are all in the area, as are the British and the Canadian embassies. The Chinese, Turkish and Iranian embassies are also located there. 

Britain's Foreign Office told MailOnline this morning: 'We strongly condemn this morning's attack which happened in the centre of Kabul during Ramadan. Our thoughts are with all the victims. 
'All our staff are accounted for and the embassy remains operational. We are working closely with the Afghan authorities and the area has been secured by security forces.' 

'It felt like an earthquake,' said 21-year-old Mohammad Hassan, describing the moment the blast struck the bank where he was working. His head wound had been bandaged but blood still soaked his white dress shirt. 
'I couldn't think clearly, there was a mess everywhere,' he said.
Later, frenzy broke out outside the hospital as ambulances and police trucks began bringing in the bodies of those killed. Some bodies were burned or destroyed beyond recognition.
The blast was so heavy that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack.
Windows were shattered in shops, restaurants and other buildings up to half a mile from the blast site.
'There are a large number of casualties, but I don't know, how many people are killed or wounded,' said an eyewitness at the site, Gul Rahim.
Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety, with men and woman struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones. 
More than an hour after the explosion ambulances were still taking the wounded to hospital, as firefighters struggled to control blazes in several buildings. 

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