Two Russian embassy staff were among six people killed today in a suicide bomb attack at the entrance to Moscow’s embassy in Kabul, the country’s Foreign Ministry and Afghan officials said on Monday.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said that the two staff killed were the embassy’s second secretary and a security guard.
The bomber approached the gates of the embassy in the south of Afghanistan’s capital, but was shot dead by armed embassy guards at around 10:50am local time.
Despite the bomber being taken down, explosives were detonated, killing at least two people and injuring 11 others, police said. This number was later reduced to six.
RIA Novosti reported a diplomat went out to speak to a crowd of people queuing for their visa applications. The four other people killed were Afghan civilians, Khalid Zadran, a Kabul police spokesman said.
In a statement, Russia’s Investigative Committee, the state body that probes major crimes, said that its chairman Alexander Bastrykin had ordered an investigation to be opened into the bombing.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, the latest to strike the country in the year since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.
The so-called Islamic State group’s local affiliate has stepped up attacks against the Taliban and civilians since the former insurgents took over the country last year as US and Nato troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal.
Two Russian embassy staff were among six people killed today in a suicide bomb attack at the entrance to Moscow’s embassy in Kabul. Pictured: A Taliban fighter stands guard in front of the Russian embassy after a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2022
A suicide bomber detonated explosives near the entrance of the Russian Embassy in Kabul, police said on Monday, adding the attacker was shot dead by armed guards as he approached the gate. Pictured: The Russian embassy in Kabul’s southern 7th district
According to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the explosion occurred ‘in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the consular section of the Russian Embassy’ in the Afghan capital.
‘At 10:50 am Kabul time on September 5, an unidentified militant set off an explosive device in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the consular section of the Russian embassy in Kabul,’ the ministry said in a statement.
‘As a result of the attack, two employees of the diplomatic mission were killed, and there are also Afghan citizens among the wounded.’
The Afghan interior ministry told AFP that a suicide attacker what shot dead by Taliban guards at the embassy.
‘It was a suicide attack, but before the bomber could reach his target, he was targeted by our forces and eliminated,’ Afghan interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor told AFP news agency
Asked whether the target was the Russian embassy, Takor said: ‘Yes’.
An Afghan civilian was killed and several others were wounded in the attack, he said.
‘Without any doubt, we are talking about a terrorist act, which is absolutely unacceptable,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
The United Nations’ mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the blast.
‘In light of recent events, UNAMA stresses the need for the de facto authorities to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the people as well as diplomatic missions,’ the UN wrote on Twitter, in reference to the Taliban government.
A Taliban fighter speaks with the driver of a car near the Russian embassy after a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2022
Afghan burqa-clad women walk past the Russian embassy after a suicide attack in Kabul on September 5, 2022
Mawlawi Sabir, the head of the police district where the attack took place, told Reuters: ‘The suicide attacker before reaching the target, was recognised and shot by Russian embassy (Taliban) guards … there is no information about casualties yet.’
Russia is one of the few countries to have maintained an embassy in Kabul after the Taliban took over the country more than a year ago.
Although Moscow does not official recognise the Taliban’s government, they have been in talks with officials over an agreement supply gasoline and other commodities.
The bombing is the latest in a series of attacks across the country, which was seized by Taliban insurgents last year who overthrew the last Western-backed government.
The Taliban say they have improved security in the country since overthrowing the US-backed government, but there have been several blasts in recent months – some of them targeting busy mosques during prayers.
On Friday, a huge bomb blast outside a mosque killed multiple civilians and a high-profile pro-Taliban cleric, who this year had called for those who commit ‘the smallest act’ against the government to be beheaded.
Images and pictures posted on Twitter showed what appeared to be blood-stained bodies scattered around the compound of Gazargah Mosque in Herat city – found in the west of the country – and local media said many casualties were feared.
The bomber approached the gates of the embassy in Afghanistan ‘s capital, but was shot dead by armed Taliban guards. Pictured: Taliban fighters ride in a vehicle on the anniversary of the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan, near the airport in Kabul on August 31, 2022
A Taliban fighter stands guard along a road after a blast during the Friday prayer in Gazargah mosque, in Herat on September 2, 2022. A huge bomb blast
A blast outside a mosque Afghanistan on Friday killed a high-profile pro-Taliban cleric and multiple civilians. Pictured: Footage from the scene in Herat, western Afghanistan
Cleric Mujeeb Rahman Ansari was killed in the blast, officials said. He was among the 46 people killed in the explosion.
Ansari had previously spoken strongly in defence of the Taliban at a large gatherings of thousands of scholars and elders organised by the group.
In July, during a religious gathering in Kabul, he called for those who commit ‘the smallest act against our Islamic government’ to be beheaded. ‘This (Taliban) flag has not been raised easily, and it will not be lowered easily,’ he said.
Ansari was the second pro-Taliban cleric to be killed in a blast in less than a month, after Rahimullah Haqqani died in a suicide attack at his madrassa in Kabul on August 17. Haqqani was known for angry speeches against IS, who later claimed responsibility for his death.
He had also spoken in favour of girls being allowed to attend secondary school, despite the government banning them from attending classes in most provinces.
Previous mosque attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State extremist group, which has carried out a series of attacks against religious and ethnic minorities, as well as Taliban targets.
Islamic State followers are also Sunnis and consider Shiites to be infidels.
The United Nations has raised concerns about the growing number of attacks and some blasts have been claimed by a local branch of Islamic State.
Government officials claim that IS has been defeated but experts say the group is the main security challenge for the country’s Islamist rulers.
This is a breaking news story. More to follow…