A bombing in a heavily guarded area of Kabul has left at least eight people dead and dozens injured. It was the largest attack in Afghanistan in 1-1/2 months, and the first major attack in the capital city since Hamid Karzai was sworn in for a second term as president, raising questions about his ability to control even Kabul.
Afghan officials have described the Tuesday morning attack as a suicide car bomb. The blast hit the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, which is home to a number of government officials, diplomats, and international groups, reports Xinhua. It remains uncertain whether the intended target was the Heetal hotel, where many foreigners stay, or the home of former Vice President Ahmed Zia Massoud.
Mr. Khan, whose brother was killed by the Taliban shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks, insists that he and his allies were the intended victims, reports The Guardian. Though the bomb detonated only 30 meters from the entrance of the Heetal hotel, it was close enough to damage Khan’s house and kill two of his guards.
“Of course we were the target,” said Shah Asmat, an aide to the former vice-president. “Before, the Taliban killed Massoud. Now, they tried to kill his brother.”
The Los Anglees Times reports that putting an end to attacks like these may prove difficult, as this attack in a “high security zone” has “raised suspicion of collusion between the Taliban and Afghan security forces.”
This year has been the worst for security in Kabul since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, reports the BBC. The blast occurred as 200 delegates were meeting to discuss how to deal with corruption in Afghanistan. Before the conference began delegates had a moment of silence, and then Karzai went on to acknowledge how widespread corruption has become in his country.
“Every one of our police, every one of our soldiers, every one of our mayors, every one of our judges, every one of our governors can go to someone’s house knock on the door and drag a man out of that house and terrorise him. In my opinion, this is the main form of corruption,” he said.
But he added: “I am a realist. I know that corruption in our government and society cannot be eliminated overnight. We cannot even eleminate it in years.”
While there is much speculation that the Taliban is responsible for the blast, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Islamic group, said he was uncertain whether his group was responsible for the bombing, reports The New York Times. This is the worst attack to hit the capital since a Taliban assault on a guesthouse six weeks ago that killed eight people, including five United Nations workers. That strike prompted the UN to withdraw 600 of its foreign workers from the country.