President Donald Trump vowed to not let terrorists win after a suicide bomber used an ambulance to kill 95 people and wound at least 158 others in the Afghan capital Kabul.
Trump, who returned to the White House Friday night from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, tweeted on Saturday night: ‘Taliban targeted innocent Afghans, brave police in Kabul today. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, and first responders. We will not allow the Taliban to win!’
The attack has been claimed by the Taliban and occurred near foreign embassies and government buildings, a week after a deadly assault on the Intercontinental Hotel.
‘The suicide bomber used an ambulance to pass through the checkpoint,’ said interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.
‘He passed through the first checkpoint saying he was taking a patient to Jamuriate hospital and at the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew his explosive-laden car.
Trump tweeted on Saturday night: ‘Taliban targeted innocent Afghans, brave police in Kabul today. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims, and first responders. We will not allow the Taliban to win!’
Trump waves as he returns to the White House Friday night from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
The explosion happened in a crowded part of the city where embassies are located and Kabul police have their headquarters
Security forces at the scene of the explosion, which ripped through the busy centre of Kabul
Smoke continued to billow from the scene of the car bomb. Also nearby are the offices of the High Peace Council, which is negotiating with the Taliban
People try to remove debris from the scene of a suicide bomb attack, which has been blamed on the pro-Taliban Haqqani network
One of the at least 158 wounded is taken to hospital. The High Peace Council said its checkpoint was targetted
An interior ministry spokesman blamed the Haqqani network, a militant group affiliated with the Taliban which Afghan and Western officials consider to be behind many of the biggest attacks on urban targets in Afghanistan.
The blast tore through a crowded street in a busy part of the city at lunchtime on what is a working day in Afghanistan, leaving torn bodies strewn on the street nearby amid rubble and debris.
The force of the blast shook windows of buildings more than a mile away and shattered windows within hundreds of yards of the site.
A suicide bomber used an ambulance laden with explosives to carry out the atrocity. The force of the blast blew part of a building down the street
The bomber managed to get through one checkpoint but when he was recognised at a second, detonated the device
A boy injured in the blast sits in an ambulance. He is among the scores of people wounded in the car bomb
Bloodied survivors of the explosion being taken to hospital in an ambulance after the attack, which happened on what is a working day in Afghanistan
A man who was injured in a bomb explosion is rushed to a hospital. The Taliban have now claimed responsibility for the attack
People helped walking-wounded away as ambulances with sirens wailing inched their way through the traffic-clogged streets of the city centre.
A man told local media he was passing the area when the explosion happened.
‘I heard a big bang and I fainted,’ he said, outside the Emergency hospital.
‘There were dozens of people who were killed and wounded. There were pools of blood.’
At least 95 people have been killed and 151 wounded in the attack. By-standers did what they could to get the wounded to hospital
A wounded man is assisted at the site of an explosion in downtown Kabul, near to the embassies district
Some of the scores of people wounded in the bomb attack being taken to hospital. The sound of ambulance sirens filled the air of central Kabul
Afghan volunteers carry the body at the scene of a the explosion, near the old Ministry of the Interior building
The explosion happened in a busy part of the city where the High Peace Council, which is charged with negotiating with the Taliban, has offices.
‘It targeted our checkpoint. It was really huge – all our windows are broken,’ said Hassina Safi, a member of High Peace Council.
‘So far we don’t have any reports if any of our members are wounded or killed.’
The Swedish and Dutch embassies as well as the European Union representation and an Indian consular office are also nearby.
‘It is a massacre,’ said Dejan Panic coordinator in Afghanistan for the Italian aid group Emergency, which runs a nearby trauma hospital.
The group said more than 50 wounded had been brought in to that hospital alone.
Mirwais Yasini, a member of parliament who was nearby when the explosion occurred, said the ambulance approached the checkpoint, close to an office of the High Peace Council and a number of foreign embassies, and blew up.
The sound of ambulance sirens pierced the air as wounded survivors were taken to hospital for treatment
Kabul’s hospitals soon began to fill up with scores of people wounded in the suicide bomb attack
The force of the blast shook windows of buildings more than a mile away and shattered panes within hundreds of yards of the site
The suicide bomb comes a week after the Taliban attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing 22
Kabul police headquarters is also in the vicinity of the blast.
Yasini said a number of people were lying on the ground.
A loud explosion rattled windows and photos posted online purportedly of the blast showed a huge plume of smoke rising into the sky.
‘I can confirm an explosion happened near the old interior ministry building in Kabul,’ interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP.
The explosion comes exactly a week after Taliban militants stormed the luxury hotel killing at least 22 people, the majority foreigners.
The latest attack will add pressure on President Ashraf Ghani and his U.S. allies, who have expressed growing confidence that a new more aggressive military strategy has succeeded in driving Taliban insurgents back from major provincial centres.
The United States has stepped up its assistance to Afghan security forces and increased its air strikes against the Taliban and other militant groups, aiming to break a stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.
However, the Taliban have dismissed suggestions that they have been weakened by the new strategy and the latest attacks have demonstrated that their capacity to mount deadly, high- profile attacks remains undiminished.