A suicide car bomber has killed at least 95 people and wounded about 158 more in an attack claimed by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, but the death toll may rise further, a health ministry official said.
- Another Taliban attack killed 22 last week
- IS carried out at least two major attacks in Afghanistan in the past month
- Donald Trump has pursued a plan to send thousands more US troops to Afghanistan
The bombing came just a week after Taliban militants killed 22 at an international hotel in the city.
The attacker used an ambulance to get through a security checkpoint, telling police he was taking a patient to a nearby hospital, said Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry.
The attacker then detonated his explosives at a second check point, Mr Rahimi said.
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.
It was the second successful Taliban attack in a week on targets in the city with high security.
Some 150 guests fled the gun battle and fire sparked by the assault by shimmying down bedsheets from the upper floors.
The US State Department said multiple American citizens were killed and injured in the attack.
Afghan security forces have struggled to fight the Taliban since the US and NATO formally ended their combat mission in 2014.
President Donald Trump has pursued a plan that involves sending thousands more US troops to Afghanistan and envisions shifting away from a “time-based” approach to one that more explicitly links US assistance to concrete results from the Afghan government.
Mr Trump’s UN envoy, Nikki Haley, said after a recent visit to Afghanistan that Mr Trump’s policy was working and that peace talks between the government and the Taliban are closer than ever before.
On December 28, a suicide bomber and other explosions at a Shiite cultural centre in Kabul killed at least 41 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group that may have been aimed at a pro-Iran news outlet based in the building.
The Islamic State group was involved in at least 10 fatal attacks in Afghanistan last year.