At least 50 killed in bomb attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Taliban suicide bombers blamed for attacks in Kabul and Lahore that leave nearly 100 injured

Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday. Photograph: /Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday. Photograph: /Omar Sobhani/Reuters

 

A Taliban suicide bomber has killed 24 people in an area of Kabul where prominent politicians live, causing residents and analysts to question the government’s ability to protect Afghanistan’s capital.

Another 42 people were injured in the attack during morning rush hour as government employees and students made their way to work and school.

The incident early on Monday was followed by a suicide bombing in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore in which at least 26 — many of them police officers — were killed. Another 54 people were injured after the bombing, carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, near a group of police guarding a demolition site at Kot Lakhpat vegetable market on the outskirts of the city.

In Kabul, plumes of black smoke were seen billowing skyward outside the entrance to a private high school. Students in nearby dormitories were injured by flying glass.

Several cars were destroyed and many people inside small shops that lined the busy street were killed.

The suicide bomber had rammed his explosive-laden car into a minibus carrying employees of the mines and petroleum ministry, Kabul police chief spokesman Basir Mujahed said.

In a statement to the media the Taliban took responsibility for the bombing, saying the target was the employees of the intelligence services.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said insurgents had spent the last two months in Kabul shadowing intelligence services employees before striking.

Analysts said widespread corruption, rife within the government and the security forces, makes keeping Kabul safe a difficult job.

Kabul-based security analyst Waheed Muzhda said: “You can bring any amount of explosives into the city if you have money. Corruption is the big problem. Any group, even a small group, can bring weapons, ammunition to anywhere in the city.”

Previous attacks

Last year, Afghanistan was ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt countries according to Transparency International.

The western Kabul area where the attack occurred is home to many prominent political leaders, such as Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqiq.

It has also been the site of several previous attacks, including the suicide attack last month that killed prominent Shia Muslim cleric Ramazan Hussainzada, who was also a senior leader of the ethnic Hazara community.

Amir Helam, whose friend died in the explosion, told Afghanistan’s Tolo TV that “every day people are dying”.

Addressing the government, Mr Helam said: “If you cannot bring peace then please leave and bring other people.”

Kabul has been battered by explosions claimed by the Taliban and by the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

On May 31st, the Afghan capital saw its worst suicide attack since the Taliban’s collapse in 2001 – an attack that killed 150 people and wounded scores more.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombing, saying: “Once again, these terrorist are attacking civilians and targeting government staff.”

Pakistan also condemned the bombing.

Pakistan bombing

In Lahore,senior police officer Haider Ashraf said it was initially believed that the bomb in that city had been detonated in a car, but it was later discovered that the vehicle belonged to a police officer who was among the dead.

Many of the wounded are policemen, with several bystanders also injured in the blast. Mr Ashraf added that a high-rise building housing important information technology offices is situated near the blast site, but the apparent target of the bombing was the police gathering.

The outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming they used a suicide bomber on a motorcycle. Rana Sanaullah, the home minister of eastern Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, said anti-state elements who want to see instability in the country were behind the attack.

He said: “No matter what name they use, these terrorists are one but they cannot demoralize the Pakistani nation.”

Malik Mohammad Ahmed, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the blast occurred near the secretariat of Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, but that he was not in the office at the time. Mr Sharif condemned the attack and called for the best possible medical service for the survivors.

AP