KABUL: A suicide car bomb apparently targeting a foreign forces convoy killed 10 people in downtown Kabul Saturday, officials said, underlining the precarious security situation in the Afghan capital following a recent wave of fatal bombings.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which struck outside a civilian hospital as Taliban insurgents escalate their annual summer offensive against the US-backed Afghan government.
The loud explosion reverberated around Kabul and left a trail of devastation, with an AFP photographer seeing the mangled wreckage of a burning vehicle at the scene of the blast.
“A suicide car bomb struck the the Fourth Macroyan residential neighbourhood of Kabul city and there have been some casualties,” Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi told AFP.
“A foreign forces vehicle has been badly damaged at the scene of the blast.” The bombing left three people dead and 27 others including five women wounded, health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said on Twitter.
Fraidoon Obaidi, the head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department, said officials were investigating the bombing.
Nato officials did not immediately comment on the blast, which prompted the heavily-fortified US embassy, located a few kilometres (miles) away in the centre of Kabul, to sound its emergency sirens and a “duck and cover” alarm warning.
US-led Nato forces ended their combat mission in Afghanistan in December last year, although a 13,000-strong residual force remains for training and counter-terrorism operations.
Saturday’s blast comes amid heightened security in Kabul after a wave of bombings earlier this month that killed more than 50 people and wounded hundreds, prompting fury from President Ashraf Ghani who blamed Pakistan for failing to rein in Taliban insurgents.
The Taliban are stepping up their summer offensive, launched in late April, amid a bitter leadership dispute following the announcement of the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.
Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, Omar’s longtime trusted deputy, was named as the new Taliban chief in late July in an acrimonious power transition.
Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri recently pledged his group’s allegiance to Mansour, in a move which could bolster his accession amid the growing infighting within the Afghan militant movement.
The latest wave of deadly violence underscores Afghanistan’s volatile security situation amid a faltering peace process.
The first face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place last month in the Pakistani hill town of Murree, aimed at ending the 14-year insurgency.
The Taliban distanced themselves from a second round of talks that were scheduled for the end of July after the announcement of Omar’s death.