First Published: 2017-01-11

Five UAE officials killed in Afghanistan bombings
Emirati officials among 13 people killed when explosives hidden in sofa detonate inside governor's compound in southern Kandahar.
Middle East Online

The UAE's ambassador to Afghanistan escaped the attack with injuries

ABU DHABI - Five UAE officials were among 56 people killed in a string of bombings across Afghan cities, authorities said Wednesday, 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 Tuesday, 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 annexe, which houses the offices of lawmakers, killing at least 36 people and wounding 80 others.

And earlier Tuesday, 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 US-backed forces are struggling to combat a resilient Taliban insurgency as well as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State 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.

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 Wednesday.

"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.

Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh warned that the toll was expected to rise as many of the wounded were battling for their lives in hospital.

- 'Barbaric attack' -

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."

Tuesday's carnage came just ten days before Donald Trump is sworn in as US president.

The situation in Afghanistan will be an urgent matter for the new leader, even though America's longest war got scarcely a passing mention in the bitterly contested presidential election.

Trump has given few details on his expected foreign policy, with even fewer specifics on how he will tackle the war in Afghanistan.

Repeated bids to launch peace negotiations with the Taliban have failed and a fierce new fighting season is expected to kick off in the spring.

Afghanistan last week welcomed the Pentagon's decision to deploy some 300 US Marines to Helmand, where American forces engaged in heated combat until they pulled out in 2014.

The Marines will head to the poppy-growing province this spring to assist a NATO-led mission to train Afghan forces, in the latest sign that foreign forces are increasingly being drawn back into the worsening conflict.

NATO officially ended its combat mission in December 2014, but US forces were granted greater powers in June to strike at the insurgents as President Barack Obama vowed a more aggressive campaign.

 

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes

US forces raid Al-Qaeda in Yemen, kill seven jihadists

Islamists to join Algeria cabinet despite poor results

Tunisia's 2.1% GDP growth marks economic upturn

Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Istanbul demolishes nightclub targeted in New Year attack

WHO says 315 cholera deaths in Yemen in under one month

Trump seeks Israeli-Palestinian peace, lashes out at Iran again

Tunisia police use tear gas on protesters

Palestinians protest for hunger-striking prisoners

GCC and Arab League call for Yemen unity

Turkey's alleged coup ringleaders stand trial

Iran’s reformists sweep to power across major cities

Israel makes concessions to Palestinians 'at Trump's request'

Ivanka hales Saudi progress on women’s rights

Looming showdown between Egypt’s president, judges

Netanyahu says will discuss peace efforts with Trump

Bahrain sentences Shiite cleric to suspended jail term

Trump scandals no issue for Saudi says minister

Saudi women celebrate easing of guardianship system, call for more freedoms

Hamas sentences three to death for commander assassination

Rouhani faces fight with hardliners in US, Iran after election win