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Pakistan accused of supporting militants who killed nearly 100 in suicide bombing yesterday

The Afghan government the attack was carried out by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network with Pakistani backing.

Photo taken on January 27, 2018 shows the blast site near Sidarat Square in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Photo taken on January 27, 2018 shows the blast site near Sidarat Square in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

PAKISTAN HAS BEEN accused by the Afghan government of providing support for militants who killed close to 100 people in a suicide bombing in Kabul yesterday.

The Afghan government said the attack was carried out by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network with Pakistani backing.

An explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of Kabul yesterday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 158 others, officials said, in one of the biggest blasts to rock the war-torn city in recent years.

US President Donald Trump called for “decisive action” against the Taliban after the militant group claimed the assault – the second it has carried out in the Afghan capital in a week.

The attack triggered chaotic scenes as terrified survivors fled the area scattered with body parts, blood and debris, and hospitals were overwhelmed by the large number of wounded.

It came as both the insurgents and the Islamic State group have escalated their attacks on Kabul, one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians.

An AFP reporter saw “lots of dead and wounded” civilians in the Jamuriate hospital, which is metres away from the blast and where medical staff struggled to treat the bloodied men, women and children lying on the floor in corridors.

Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh told AFP that the toll “now stands at 95 dead, 158 wounded”, shortly after the interior ministry warned that an earlier death toll of 63 could rise.

The blast happened in an area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices. Members of the EU delegation in Kabul were in their “safe room” and there were no casualties, an official told AFP.

The force of the explosion shook windows of buildings at least two kilometres (more than a mile) away and caused some low-rise structures in the immediate vicinity to collapse.

‘Unjustifiable’

The suicide bomber passed through at least one checkpoint in the ambulance, saying he was taking a patient to Jamuriate hospital, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP.

“At the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew his explosive-laden car,” Nasrat Rahimi said.

Rahimi told a news conference that most of the victims were civilians. He said the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network was responsible and four suspects had been arrested.

Twenty minutes before the blast an AFP reporter saw police checking ambulances several hundred metres from the scene of the explosion, as the drivers and patients stood on the street. Ambulances are rarely checked in the city.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan condemned the use of an ambulance in the bombing, saying on Twitter it was “unacceptable and unjustifiable”.

President Trump also condemned the “despicable” attack, vowing that “the Taliban’s cruelty will not prevail.”

“This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners,” he said in a statement.

Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them.

The Taliban used social media to claim responsibility for the attack, which comes exactly a week after its insurgents stormed Kabul’s landmark Intercontinental hotel, killing at least 25 people, the majority foreigners.

- © AFP, 2018

 Read: A massacre’: Ambulance bomb kills at least 90 people and wounds 151 in Kabul

Read: ‘Pray for me. I may die’: Kabul hotel guest’s plea during siege

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