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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Taliban suicide bomber kills 14 Nepalese guards in Kabul

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Fourteen Nepalese security guards were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber attacked their minibus in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, the Interior Ministry and an Afghan security official said.

The Nepalese were on their way to the Canadian Embassy where they worked as guards, according to another Nepalese guard, who was injured in the blast.

The attack was the latest by the Taliban, who have stepped up assaults, including in the Afghan capital, as part of their summer offensive. The insurgent attacks frequently target government employees and Afghan security forces across the country.

The bomber was on foot when he struck the minibus, said Kabul police chief General Abdul Rahman Rahimi. The vehicle belonged to employees of an unnamed foreign security company, he said.

An Interior Ministry statement confirmed that all 14 killed were Nepalese citizens, describing the attack as the work of a “terrorist suicide bomber”. It said the explosion injured nine other people – five Nepalese employees and four Afghan civilians.

Amrit Rokaya Chhetri, a Nepalese who was wounded in the attack, told the Associated Press they were on their way to the Canadian Embassy when the blast took place.

“Many people died,” he said from his hospital bed, his head covered with a white bandage. “I say to my family, I am OK and I will come home.”

Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive officer, condemned the attack in a posting on Twitter, saying: “This attack is an act of terror and intimidation.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to media.

In Nepal, Bharat Raj Paudyal, spokesman for Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government was aware of Monday’s incident in Kabul and was trying to verify the names of the victims and details about the bombing.

Nepal does not have an embassy in Afghanistan but the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, is working to get the details, he added.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a parked motorbike killed eight Afghan civilians during morning rush-hour in a province in north-eastern Badakhshan province.

At least 14 other people were injured in the blast, according to Naved Froutan, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The explosion took place in the main bazaar in Kashim district, he said, adding that “an investigation is under way to determine the target of the attack, but all victims of the attack are civilians”.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the Badakhshan attack, though the Taliban are active in the area and regularly target Afghan security forces there.

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