Ambulance bombing in Kabul, 95 killed and 150 wounded.The bombing Saturday came just a week after Taliban militants killed 22 at an international hotel in the city.
It has been a month of relentless attacks in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate making alternate claims of responsibility.
The brutality and frequency of the attacks, including one in December at a Shiite cultural center have shattered Afghanistan’s usually quiet winter fighting season. The attacks have infuriated Afghans, frustrated by the worsening security after 16 years of war.
They have expressed their anger with neighbour Pakistan for harbouring insurgents and with the US-led coalition for its inability to suppress the insurgency.
They have also blamed the deteriorating security situation on a deeply divided government embroiled in political feuding that has paralysed Parliament.
The attacker on Saturday used the ambulance to get through a security checkpoint in central Kabul, telling police he was taking a patient to a nearby hospital, said Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the interior ministry. He then detonated his explosives at a second checkpoint, Rahimi said.
The health ministry said 95 were killed and 158 wounded.
“The majority of the dead in the attack are civilians, but of course we have military casualties as well,” Rahimi said. He said four suspects had been arrested and were being questioned but he didn’t elaborate.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the bombing, which sent thick, black smoke into the sky from the site near the government’s former interior ministry building. Also nearby are the European Union and Indian consulates.
Windows at the nearby Jamhuriat government hospital were shattered and its walls damaged. People ran out to help and ambulances arrived to transport dozens of wounded to area hospitals.
It was the second successful Taliban attack in a week on high-security targets in the city.
Last Saturday, six Taliban militants attacked Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel, leaving 22 people dead, including 14 foreigners. Some 150 guests fled the gun battle and fire sparked by the assault by climbing down bedsheets tied to balconies. The US State Department said multiple American citizens were killed and injured in the attack.
The hotel attack prompted the United States to repeat its demand that Pakistan expels Taliban who has found sanctuaries on its soil, with particular reference to the Haqqani network.
On Wednesday a US drone slammed into Pakistani tribal territory that borders Afghanistan killing two Haqqani commanders, according to Pakistani officials, who deny providing organized camps for their safety.
Pakistan says the Taliban cross the porous border that separates the two countries along with the estimated 1.5 million Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan.>