Monday, September 26, 2022

Two Russian embassy staff killed in Kabul suicide attack

Two Russian embassy staff killed in Kabul suicide attack

KABUL (AFP) - A suicide bomber struck near the Russian embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday, killing two staff from the diplomatic mission and wounding several other people, the foreign ministry in Moscow said.

In the first attack targeting a foreign mission since the Taliban seized power in August last year, the bomber blew himself up near the entrance of the embassy's consular section.

"As a result of the attack, two employees of the diplomatic mission were killed, and there are also Afghan citizens among the wounded," the Russian foreign ministry said.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor gave this agency a different account, saying a suicide attacker was shot dead by Taliban guards at the Russian embassy. An Afghan civilian was killed and several others wounded, he said.

As with other recent attacks, heavy Taliban security quickly sealed off the area and prevented media from filming nearby. No group has so far claimed the attack on the embassy. "Without any doubt, we are talking about a terrorist act, which is absolutely unacceptable," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in Moscow.

Violence in Afghanistan has largely declined since the Taliban returned to power, but several bomb blasts -- some targeting minority communities -- have rocked the country in recent months, many claimed by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group.

Last week, a suicide bomber struck one of western Afghanistan's biggest mosques, killing at least 18 people, including an influential imam.

Cleric Mujibur Rahman Ansari, who had called for those who committed even the "smallest act" against the government to be beheaded, was killed in that attack in the city of Herat.

Ansari was the second pro-Taliban cleric to be killed in a blast in less than a month, after an August 11 suicide attack targeted Rahimullah Haqqani at his madrassa in Kabul. Several mosques across the country have been targeted this year, some in attacks claimed by IS.

At least 21 people were killed and dozens more wounded on August 17 when a blast ripped through a mosque packed with worshippers in Kabul. Taliban officials claim that IS has been defeated but experts say the group is the main security challenge for the country's current Islamist rulers.