Car bomb targeting Afghan MP kills 9

Agence France-Presse . Kabul | Updated at 10:35pm on December 20, 2020


Damaged cars are seen at the site of an attack in Kabul on Sunday. A car bomb targeting an Afghan lawmaker killed nine people and wounded more than a dozen in Kabul on December 20, officials said, the latest attack to rock the capital. — AFP photo

A car bomb targeting an Afghan lawmaker killed nine people and wounded more than a dozen in Kabul on Sunday, officials said, the latest attack to rock the capital.

Kabul has been hit by a wave of deadly violence in recent months despite the Taliban and government engaging in peace talks to end the country’s long conflict.

Sunday’s bombing targeted parliamentarian Khan Mohammad Wardak who was injured in the attack, officials said.

‘Nine people were killed and 20 others were wounded in the car bomb,’ interior minister Masoud Andrabi told reporters, adding that all the casualties were civilians.

The ministry said in a separate statement that women and children were among those wounded by the ‘terrorist attack’.

A security source said the car bomb detonated in the west of the capital.

‘It was a powerful explosion that has caused a lot of damage to houses in the vicinity,’ the source said.

Television footage showed at least two cars on fire, with plumes of thick black smoke billowing into the sky.

An aide to lawmaker Wardak said the attack occurred when he was travelling in his convoy, and five of his bodyguards were among the wounded.

‘The enemies of Afghanistan carried out a terrorist attack on Khan Mohammad Wardak,’ President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement condemning the bombing.

‘Terrorist attacks on civilian targets and facilities will endanger the opportunity for peace,’ he added.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

The jihadist Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some of the recent attacks in Kabul.

Dozens of people, mostly students, were killed when IS jihadists attacked two education centres, including one at Kabul University that saw gunmen open fire on classrooms.

The group has also claimed a series of recent rocket attacks in and around the capital.

Kabul has seen a spate of targeted assassinations of prominent figures in recent months, including top officials, journalists, clerics, politicians and rights activists.

Last week a deputy governor of Kabul province was killed when a bomb attached to his vehicle detonated while he was on his way to office.

Vice-president Amrullah Saleh, a strong opponent of Taliban, was appointed in October to lead a taskforce to curb the violence in Kabul.

Saleh’s programme was popular with people in the capital and that had prompted the Taliban to launch new attacks in an attempt to discredit him, said Sayed Nasir Musawi, an independent Kabul-based political analyst.

Sunday’s car bomb comes just two days after 15 children were killed and many more wounded when a motorbike laden with explosives blew up near a religious gathering in a remote part of the eastern province of Ghazni, officials said, blaming the Taliban.

The Taliban denied involvement and said the blast occurred when ‘unexploded ordnance’ detonated near the children.

Violence has also surged across several provinces in Afghanistan this year.

Attacks by the Taliban had killed nearly 500 civilians and wounded more than 1,000 others over the past three months itself, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

‘Until there is a ceasefire announcement by the Taliban, they will carry out attacks, blasts and target killings as a pressure tactic in the peace negotiations,’ Musawi said.

Peace talks — which opened in September in the Qatari capital of Doha — are currently on a break until early January.

Outgoing US president Donald Trump has pushed to end America’s longest war, with Washington signing a deal with the Taliban earlier this year committing to pulling all of its troops from the country by May 2021.