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ASIA >Five UAE officials among 56 killed in Afghanistan bombings

KAHDAHAR, Afghanistan

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AFP photo

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Five United Arab Emirates officials were among 56 people killed in a string of bombings across Afghan cities, authorities said Jan. 11, as Taliban militants step up a deadly winter campaign of violence.

The Emiratis were among 13 people killed when explosives hidden in a sofa detonated inside the governor’s compound in southern Kandahar on Jan. 10, while the UAE’s ambassador to Afghanistan escaped the attack with injuries.

Just hours before, twin Taliban blasts in Kabul tore through employees exiting a parliament annex, which houses the offices of lawmakers, killing at least 36 people and wounding 80 others.

And earlier on Jan. 10, a Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people in Lashkar Gah, the capital of volatile Helmand province, as the militants ramp up nationwide attacks despite the onset of winter, when fighting usually wanes.

The carnage underscores growing insecurity in Afghanistan, where U.S.-backed forces are struggling to combat a resilient Taliban insurgency as well as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

Kandahar’s governor Humayun Azizi and UAE envoy Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi were wounded by flames from the explosion, but many others were burned beyond recognition, said provincial police chief Abdul Raziq, who was at the scene when the blast occurred, AFP reported. 

The Emirati officials killed were “on a mission to carry out humanitarian, educational and development projects,” the UAE’s official WAM news agency said on Jan. 11.

“This incident will in no way affect the relations and cooperation between Afghanistan and UAE,” President Ashraf Ghani said, ordering an investigation into the bombing.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the Kandahar attack, but they said they were behind the Kabul blasts.
In the first explosion, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a minibus transporting government employees. As rescuers reached the scene, a car bomb exploded.

Among the 36 dead were four policemen who were killed in the second explosion when they rushed to help the victims of the first blast.

Condemning the “barbaric attack,” Ghani lashed out at the Taliban for the assault on civilians, which left the area littered with bloodied bodies.

“The deaths of scores of civilians in today’s Kabul bomb attacks indicates that the Taliban are pressing ahead with a gruesome campaign of violence that makes no effort to spare civilian lives,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

“An immediate, impartial and independent investigation must be carried out to secure justice for the victims and their families.”

January/11/2017

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