Afghanistan: Ambulance suicide attack kills about 100 people in Kabul

Monday, January 29, 2018

On Saturday, an ambulance laden with explosives was driven past a police checkpoint in Afghanistan's capital Kabul. As the ambulance entered a "secure zone" of the city the ambulance detonated. According to the latest updates, at least one hundred people were killed and around 200 injured. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Zoomable map of Kabul. Marker indicates the site of explosion near intersection of Ministry of Interior Road and Chicken Street.

The blast occurred near midday local time. The ambulance had cleared one checkpoint, but was found out at a second checkpoint. It was here the driver detonated the explosives before police could stop him. This is according to Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi, who also said the nearby ministry building was the apparent target. The driver had claimed to be taking a patient to Jamhuriat Hospital. Mirwais Yasini, a member of the National Assembly, was nearby when it happened. He agreed that the Interior Ministry was the intended target, however, most of the victims were people in the busy streets, he told Reuters.

Wahid Majrooh of the Ministry of Public Health confirmed the number of causalities. Witnesses told the BBC that the streets were crowded at the time of the explosion. Dejan Panic, who works for Italian-based Emergency, coordinates a trauma center which treated dozens of the wounded and called it a "massacre" when speaking to Reuters.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres' office released a statement: "Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are a serious violation of human rights and humanitarian laws, and can never be justified." Chief executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah wrote on Twitter: "We condemn this terrorist act and share the sorrows and loses of our people. Our priority and focus right now is to help those in need and provide the best treatment for those wounded."

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Taliban in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility on behalf of the fundamentalist group.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement: "I am particularly disturbed by credible reports that the attackers used a vehicle painted to look like an ambulance, including bearing the distinctive medical emblem, in clear violation of international humanitarian law."