KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Latest on the conflict in Afghanistan (all times local):
Afghanistan’s president says the death toll from last week’s massive suicide truck bombing in Kabul has surpassed 150, making it the deadliest single attack in the 16 years since the U.S. invaded to topple the Taliban.
Ashraf Ghani provided the updated toll on Tuesday in remarks to the Kabul Process, an international gathering focused on security and political issues. He said more than 300 other people were wounded in the bombing. Afghan authorities have said Pakistan was involved in the attack, charges denied by Islamabad.
The two countries have often accused each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along their porous border. No one has claimed the attack. The Taliban have steadily expanded their reach since the U.S. and international forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. An Islamic State affiliate has meanwhile emerged and carried out several large attacks.
Afghanistan’s president has again invited the Taliban to peace talks, calling it their “last chance” to give up their 16-year insurgency and join the political process. Ashraf Ghani spoke at the opening of the so-called Kabul Process, a gathering of 23 nations, the EU, U.N. and NATO intended to discuss security and political issues in the country. The Taliban has steadily expanded its reach since U.S. and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014 and transitioned to a support and counterterrorism role. Past attempts at peace talks have failed. The Taliban have refused to negotiate with the government until all foreign forces leave, and still refer to themselves as a government in exile, angering authorities in Kabul.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Latest on the massive explosion that struck the Afghan capital, Kabul, during morning rush hour (all times local):
Germany’s Interior Ministry says deportation of Afghans whose asylum requests have been rejected has been temporarily suspended in the wake of an attack in Kabul that seriously damaged the German Embassy. A flight to Kabul planned for Wednesday has been put off and spokesman Johannes Dimroth says other deportations will be postponed for the time being. Germany considers areas of Afghanistan, including Kabul, safe and has been regularly deporting Afghans whose asylum requests have been rejected, particularly those with criminal records. Dimroth says the decision to postpone deportations was not due to a reassessment of the danger, but rather because the embassy in Kabul is not in a position to deal with the return of the deportees after being damaged in the attack. He says Germany’s position that deportations, particularly of convicted criminals, are necessary.
France’s foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the French Embassy in Kabul suffered material damage in the car bombing that killed scores of people in the Afghan capital’s diplomatic area earlier in the day. Le Drian said in a statement Wednesday that French authorities have not had information on potential French casualties “at this stage” but that they’re still checking. The minister expressed his “indignation” at the “terrorist attack” in a country that “is paying a heavy toll on terrorism again.” He offered his condolences to “families of the many victims” in the massive bombing. Le Drian stressed that “France stands by Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism.” The attack killed 80 people near Zambaq Square, close to the area housing several diplomatic and government facilities.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is condemning the massive suicide truck bombing in Kabul that killed 80 and wounded hundreds, saying that “terrorism has no borders.” The chancellor said terrorism “targets all of us – whether in Manchester or Berlin, Paris, Istanbul, St. Petersburg or today in Kabul.” She spoke in the southern German city of Nuremberg just hours after the explosion near the German Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday. A German diplomat was slightly injured, an Afghan embassy employee suffered serious injuries and an Afghan guard died in the blast. Merkel said that “today we’re united in shock and sadness across all borders.” She expressed her sympathy for the victims and their families and vowed that, “we will lead the fight against terrorism and we will win it.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey will evacuate some of its embassy staff from Kabul after the building was damaged in the explosion that hit the Afghan capital. Cavusoglu called for an investigation into how the suicide car bomb was able to reach Kabul’s heavily protected diplomatic district where it detonated at a busy intersection on Wednesday. Cavusoglu added that no one among the Turkish Embassy personnel was hurt in the explosion. He said the ambassador was in Turkey at the time of the attack. The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association, also condemned the brutal attack in which at least two media staffers were killed and four others were wounded. The statement says a “TOLO TV’s staff member Aziz Navin was killed along with BBC Kabul’s staff driver Nazeer Ahamad” and that three other BBC Kabul staff and a reporter for TV1, a private Afghan channel, were wounded. The office of TV1 is located close to the site of the explosion.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the NATO mission have condemned the massive bombing that killed 80 people near the German Embassy in the Afghan capital earlier in the day. America’s top diplomat to Kabul, Special Chargé d’Affaires Hugo Llorens said Wednesday’s “horrific and shameful attack demonstrates these terrorists’ complete disregard for human life and their nihilistic opposition to the dream of a peaceful future for Afghanistan.” Llorens offered his “deepest condolences to the families of all those killed and hope for the speedy recovery of the injured.” The Kabul headquarters of NATO’s mission to Afghanistan also denounced the car bombing which the alliance said went off near Zambaq Square, close to the area housing several diplomatic and government facilities. The U.S. Embassy is not located there but in another part of the city, about a kilometer (half mile) away. The NATO statement praised “the courage of Afghan Security Forces, especially the police and first responders. Attacks such as these only serve to strengthen our commitment to our Afghan partners as they seek a peaceful, stable future for their country.”
Japan’s Foreign Ministry says two of its embassy employees, both Japanese nationals, were slightly injured in the bombing in Kabul earlier in the day. The ministry says the injured were inside the embassy complex, located near the site of Wednesday’s bombing. It says embassy officials also reported some minor damage to the building, such as broken windows but that there are no other reports of injuries or damage involving Japanese nationals in Kabul. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry says Turkish Embassy buildings were damaged in the explosion but that no embassy employees were harmed The ministry condemned the attack and said Turkey would continue to stand by Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism. India reported “some damage to windows” at the Indian Embassy building, located next to the German, Iranian and British embassies.
The BBC says a driver for the broadcaster was killed and four of its journalists were injured in the massive car bombing in Kabul. BBC World Service director Francesca Unsworth says Mohammed Nazir, who had worked for the BBC Afghan Service for four years, was killed as he was driving colleagues to work. She says the four journalists have been treated at a hospital, and their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Unsworth says the attack is “a devastating loss to the BBC and to Mohammed Nazir’s friends and family. Afghan officials say 80 people died and 350 were wounded in the attack.
China’s foreign ministry says its embassy building in Kabul has been partly damaged in an explosion that rocked the Afghan capital’s heavily guarded diplomatic district earlier in the day. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regularly scheduled media briefing on Wednesday that all embassy staff members were “safe and sound” and that there had been no reports of injured Chinese citizens. Afghan officials have said a suicide car bombing killed 80 and wounded as many as 350. Hua said China strongly condemned the attack and offered its condolences to the victims and their families. She told reporters that the Chinese government will be assessing the situation and considering additional safety measures.
The Afghan Taliban are denying any involvement in the massive suicide attack that struck the capital, Kabul, earlier in the day. Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, says that Wednesday’s explosion had “nothing to do with the Mujahedeen of Islamic Emirate,” as the Taliban call themselves. Mujahid says the Taliban were not involved and that whoever “carried out this attack and for what purpose, that will become clear at a later stage.” His statement added that the Taliban condemn “every explosion and attack carried out against civilians, or in which civilians are harmed.” Even though the Taliban claim they are only waging war against the Kabul government and foreign forces in Afghanistan, most of the casualties of their attacks have been civilians.
An Afghan health official has raised the death toll from the massive suicide car bombing in Kabul earlier in the day, saying the attack killed 80 people. Ismail Kawasi, spokesman for the public health ministry, says that the number of the wounded now stands at 350. He says the target of the attack was not immediately known but that most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children. No group immediately claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s explosion, which struck the heart of Kabul’s highly secure diplomatic district, the Wazir Akbar Khan area. The neighborhood is home to several embassies and not far from the Presidential Palace and foreign ministry. German and Pakistani authorities have said some of their employees and staff were hurt in the explosion.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says the explosion in Kabul has wounded employees of the German Embassy and killed an Afghan security guard outside the building. Gabriel sais all embassy workers are now safe and offered his condolences to the family of the slain guard. The Foreign Ministry has activated a crisis team to help deal with the aftermath of the bombing on Wednesday that hit at the heart of Kabul’s diplomatic section, the explosion going off in a highly secure area close to the German and several other embassies. Afghan officials say 64 people were killed and as many as 320 were wounded. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Gabriel says “our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. We wish those injured a quick recovery.” He vowed that the attack would not shake Germany’s determination to “support the Afghan regime with the stabilization of their country.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has strongly condemned the massive attack in Kabul earlier in the morning, just days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. No group has claimed responsibility for what the authorities say was a suicide car bombing that struck a highly secure diplomatic area of the Afghan capital. Wednesday’s statement from Ghani’s office says the president said that “the terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people.” Pakistan also issued a statement, saying it “strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Kabul this morning that has caused loss of precious human lives and injuries to many.” The statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “the blast has caused damage to the residences of some Pakistani diplomats and staff, living in the close vicinity, and inflicted minor injuries to some.”
The Afghan interior ministry says 64 people were killed and as many as 320 were wounded in the massive car bombing in Kabul earlier in the day. 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. The ministry did not have details on the possible target of the attack. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past. The explosion took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour when roads are packed with worktime commuters. It appeared to have gone off close to a busy intersection in the Wazir Akbar Khan district – a highly secure area of the capital that is home to many embassies, diplomatic missions, the Presidential Palace and the Foreign Ministry.
An Afghan health official says the rush-hour suicide car bombing in Kabul has killed at least nine people and wounded as many as 90. Ismail Kawasi says it was not immediately known what the target of the attack was on Wednesday morning. Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, says the explosion was so heavy that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.
Afghan officials say a heavy explosion has caused casualties and damage in the diplomatic area of the capital Kabul. Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said at least 50 people were killed or wounded in the suicide car bombing Wednesday. The blast in the Wazir Akbar Khan area happened near several embassies and not far from the presidential palace. Ismail Kawasi, spokesman for the public health ministry, said more than 50 wounded people are in Kabul hospitals so far. Danish said the blast was so heavy more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged.