Kabul was rocked this morning at rush hour by one of the worst bombings in the past three years, killing at least 80 and injuring close to 400, including at least 7 Americans. The blast targeted a highly fortified area known as the Green Zone, which is protected by numerous blast walls as well as security forces.
The bombing was timed for rush hour, as diplomats, journalists, and government agents made their way to work. BBC Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir was killed as he drove fellow journalists to the office. CBS reports that a journalist from Afghan TV news channel Tolo TV was also killed. Most of the casualties were women and children going about their morning routines. CBS reports that the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, condemned the bombing as a “cowardly attack in the holy Month of Ramadan targeting innocent civilians in their daily life.”
A truck, likely disguised as a water tanker or sceptic service vehicle and packed with explosives, was driven into the Green Zone and detonated. Shop windows were shattered half a mile away, say CBS reporters, and some survivors told the BBC that at first they thought the blast was an earthquake. BBC Afghan correspondent Waheed Massoud described the fortifications designed to stop this and other security breaches. “There is a boom gate,” he said. “Every vehicle is stopped and IDs are checked. But the stricter the security, the more insurgents find loopholes and adapt. It is very difficult to say that such attacks will be prevented. They happen in the most secure places on Earth.”
The BBC reports that the Taliban have already issued a statement denying responsibility while ISIS has said nothing either way. However, Massoud points out that the organization responsible may be hoping to avoid backlash for the high number of civilian casualties. The Taliban also announced last month the start of a major “spring offensive” that would focus on attacking foreign forces, making them prime suspects.
CBS notes that the U.S. has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for fifteen years now. Despite a reduction of foreign troops there in 2014, the conflict continues. According to the BBC, the Pentagon is lately putting pressure on President Trump to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan as the Taliban cedes more control from the Afghan government. This morning’s bombing could up the volume on those voices calling for increased military presence in the Middle East.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul’s Special Charge d’Affaires Hugo Llorens has issued a statement:
“This horrific and shameful attack demonstrates these terrorists’ complete disregard for human life and their nihilistic opposition to the dream of a peaceful future for Afghanistan. The terrorists, and those who provide them support in any form, deserve the utter scorn of all civilized people around the world.”