At 8.22 am on Wednesday, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) was detonated in Kabul near Zambaq Square outside the Green Zone — that houses diplomatic and government facilities, along with schools. Afghan security forces prevented the VBIED from being brought into the Green Zone, but the explosion caused civilian casualties in the vicinity. According to the latest figures from the Government Media and Information Centre of the Government of Afghanistan, 80 people have been killed and more than 350 wounded in the terror attack.
Quoting an NDS (the Afghan intelligence) source, Afghan radio station Spogmai FM reported that after the blast, a water tanker packed with explosives arrived at the scene. The driver of the tanker reportedly held a permit card of an embassy, which is how he managed to enter the diplomatic area. It is unclear which embassy granted the driver a permit, but an investigation is underway.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan condemned the attack. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condemned the attack. Javid Faisal, deputy spokesperson in the office of the chief executive told Firstpost, "We condemn the attack. It was a terror attack and most of the casualties are civilians. The area hit today houses schools, and students are among the injured. The terror attack in the month of Ramadan (Ramzan) shows that the perpetrators who fight against Afghanistan in the name of Islam are neither Muslims nor humans."
Amrullah Saleh, the state minister for security reforms, hinted at Pakistani involvement. "An attack like this wouldn't have been possible without the support and involvement of a Pakistani State agency. And the ISI has a track record of involvement in such deadly attacks. We have no other enemy in this region or beyond."
According to Afghan journalist Shakib Mahmud, the Indian embassy does not appear to be the target of the blast as it took place a few hundred metres away from embassy. However, it was a very powerful blast and tremors could be felt as far as the Indian embassy. Minister of External Affairs expressed relief that Indian embassy staff was safe:
By God's grace, Indian Embassy staff are safe in the massive #Kabul blast.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 31, 2017
Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra told Firstpost, "It was a very large bomb. Some are saying that it was the largest-ever in Kabul, with some estimates suggesting there were 1,500 kilogrammes of explosives detonated. When a bomb of that size goes off, the blast radius is extensive. Buildings and windows get damaged in far away areas. Fortunately, all of our staff is safe. According to reports, some Indian professionals working in Kabul suffered light injuries. They were in their offices and were injured by glass shards." Multiple embassies and offices of Afghan media houses like TV1 were damaged given the huge blast radius.
The author is an independent journalist working on cyber security and the geopolitics of India's neighbourhood, focussing on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh. He tweets at @aveeksen
Updated Date: May 31, 2017 16:07 PM