A blast was reported in Kabul just fifty metres away from the the Indian embassy, several media reports said. Even though no reports gave confirmation on casualties, The Associated Press, however, reported that at least 50 people have either died or been wounded in the attack.
The spokesman of Afghanistan’s interior ministry, Najib Danish, said he was unable to give a breakdown of the toll. A health ministry spokesman said more than 60 wounded people, mainly civilians, had been rushed to Kabul hospitals, adding: “We don’t know the number of killed yet,” according to AFP.
A huge plume of smoke could be seen rising from the area but it was not clear what the target was and there was no immediate confirmation of any casualties. The blast in the Wazir Akbar Khan area happened near several embassies and not far from the presidential palace.
Ismail Kawasi, spokesman for the public health ministry, said more than 50 wounded people are in Kabul hospitals so far. Eye-witness said that the blast was so heavy more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged. Windows were shattered in shops, restaurants and other buildings up to a kilometer from the blast site.
According to CNN-News18, all Indian staffers present at the embassy at the time are reportedly safe. However, the Indian intelligence agency has not ruled out the fact that the target of the explosion could have been the Indian mission in Afghanistan. All staff members have been reportedly moved to a safe room inside the embassy building.
The explosion occurred near the German Gate, which is the entry point to the road which houses missions of several countries, the closes being the German Embassy. Footage accessed by CNN-News18 showed window panes of the Indian embassy shattered by the impact of the blast.
BREAKING: A loud explosion has been heard in the Afghan capital of Kabul pic.twitter.com/ji47RboYrP
— Warrior Reports (@WarriorReports) May 31, 2017
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the explosion comes amid heightened activity of the Taliban, which has staged a slew of deadly attacks in Afghanistan in the recent past. The Taliban has vowed to step up its annual ‘spring offensive.’
The Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting an armoured NATO convoy that killed at least eight people and wounded 28 on May 3.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has warned of “another tough year” for both foreign troops and local forces in Afghanistan, where more than one third of the country is outside of government control.
In an incident as recent as Friday, at least 15 Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters attacked their base in Kandahar. At least 30 soldiers were killed in a similar attack in Shah Wali Kot late Monday and two days later, 13 others died in another insurgent raid in Kandahar’s Maiwand district, acording to AFP.
Besides this, incidents of attack on the Indian mission in Afghanistan have been reported in the past too. Nine people were killed in an Taliban-claimed attack in March last year after terrorists, including suicide bombers, struck the Indian consulate in Jalalabad. In January 2016, the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan was also attacked.
Kabul province had the highest number of casualties in the first three months of 2017 thanks to multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.