A massive truck bomb struck Khabul’s diplomatic area – Wazir Akbar Khan district – on Wednesday, May 31, killing 90 people and injuring some 400.
Security forces stand next to a crater created by massive explosion in front of the German Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The suicide truck bomb hit a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul killing scores of people and wounding hundreds more (photo: Rex)
Reports say that a vehicle used to empty septic tanks had been loaded with up to 1,500kg of explosives, which detonated at 08:22hrs local time in front of the German Embassy and a telecommunications company building.
Most of the casualties were Afghans but foreign nationals were also injured. The blast caused widespread damage to the immediate and surrounding buildings; some embassies were seriously affected.
President Ashraf Ghani, whose palace windows were shattered in the blast just as he had finished his morning briefing, called it “a crime against humanity.”
Emergency, which operates a surgery hospital a few hundred yards away from the scene of the blast, said that hundreds of wounded people were at the hospital’s doors within five minutes. Dejan Panic co-ordinator of the hospital, told the BBC that the medical facility was damaged: “All our windows were broken, and some doors.” He added that the blast was terrifying. Staff waited for shooting to follow, “As usually happens in these scenarios.” After a few moments: “When this did not happen, we activated our mass casualty plan,” he said.
Referring to the immediate casualties who arrived at the gates, Panic stated: “Luckily, most were walking wounded. The more serious ones, those with head traumas and penetrative injuries… arrived later.” He said the hospital treated 69 casualties, mostly adult males, but some women as well. Six were dead on arrival and some died while being assessed.
“Afghans accept chaos as part of daily life,” he added, explaining that Kabul sees explosions regularly. Such conditions of deadly chaos are raising the prevalence of PTSD, both among the population and among emergency workers and CRJ understands that the provision of treatment for PTSD in Afghanistan is vastly under-resourced.
“We’ve been here offering surgical assistance to victims of war for 16 years. Sixteen years. Yet this war does not only give no sign of ending, but it’s becoming increasingly violent, even in the capital,” said Panic.
“Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and can never be justified,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement attributable to his Spokesman.
“Those responsible for today’s attack must be brought to justice,” he added, underlining the need to reinforce the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
The UN chief also expressed his sympathies to the families of the victims, wished a speedy recovery to those injured, and reaffirmed the solidarity of the UN with the people and the Government of Afghanistan.
Also today, the UN Security Council, in a press statement stressed that those responsible for the bombing should be held accountable, and called on all UN Member States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.
Reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, members of the Security Council “reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”
“Beyond the immeasurable human suffering caused by today’s attack, the deliberate detonation of a massive truck bomb in a civilian area, particularly during the peaceful month of Ramadan, is morally reprehensible and an outrage,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, said in a news release, underscoring that the attack is a serious violation of humanitarian law.
The Presidential Palace said in a statement on Wednesday evening that President Ashraf Ghani organised an emergency cabinet session where he directed security institutions to assess the incident and ramp up efforts to ensure the safety of Kabul residents.
He also directed relevant organisations to share information about the incident with the people, and instructed the urban development minister and the Kabul municipality to repair the damaged areas as soon as possible.