Kabul suicide bomber kills 41 in worst attack since fall of Taliban

Suspicion falls on Pakistani intelligence after embassy blast

A suicide bomber targeting the Indian embassy in Kabul has killed 41 people and injured 141 others in the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since the fall of the Taliban.

The devastating blast, in a supposedly secure diplomatic enclave, raised tensions in the region with Afghan officials privately blaming Pakistan and the Interior Ministry publicly accusing a "foreign intelligence service" of being involved.

Yesterday's carnage came during an upsurge of violence which has raised the death toll among foreign troops to the highest since the US and British invasion of 2001, with 11 British soldiers killed in less than two weeks. Hundreds of Afghans, civilians and soldiers, have also become casualties in the violence of the past six months.

The bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a convoy of vehicles as it was entering the Indian legation. The explosion killed an Indian defence attaché, a senior diplomat and four guards while six others died in the nearby Indonesian embassy. The vast majority of the casualties, however, were among Afghan civilians queuing for visas as well as people in nearby shops and businesses.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, who himself survived an assassination attempt two months ago, said that "outsiders" wanted to "damage good relations between Afghanistan and India" which is engaged in extensive aid projects in the country. The Afghan Foreign Minister, Rangeen Dadfur Spanta, who visited the embassy shortly after the blast, also spoke of attempts to destabilise relations between the two countries. Bombings aimed at foreign diplomats are rare in Afghanistan. Such attacks became widespread in Iraq at the start of the insurgency and led to many countries shutting down their diplomatic missions in Baghdad. The British embassy in Kabul, along with others, has been placed on a heightened state of alert but the Foreign Office said there were no plans to withdraw any staff.

Suicide bombings, previously almost unknown in Afghanistan, have become more and more widespread with foreigners being increasingly targeted. A high-profile attack on the five- star Serena Hotel, which has a predominantly international clientele, in January, resulted in six people being killed.

The US condemned "needless acts of violence" and the European Union described the attack as "terrorism targeting innocent civilians". The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said it "condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations".

In Delhi the Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said a high-level delegation was on its way to Kabul. The military attaché was named as Brigadier R Mehta and the diplomat as V Venkat Rao, both of whom had extensive experience of serving in Afghanistan. The Indian ambassador and his deputy were not in the legation when the bombing took place.

Haroun Mir, a political analyst who had formerly served as an adviser to the defence ministry, said "the finger is definitely being pointed at ISI [InterServices Intelligence], the Pakistani secret service. The past attacks on the Serena and President Karzai have the imprint of al-Qa'ida and they could not function without having the support of rogue elements inside the Pakistani government."

The injured were taken to Kabul's general hospital. A woman, who had lost her son and daughter, Mirwais and Lima, in the attack, sat in the corridor weeping, "Oh my God, oh my God, they have killed my children." Abdullah Ali, whose brother Rahimtullah was hit by flying glass, said: "He was covered in blood, the doctors say he may lose an eye. It is very sad, he was trying to get a visa for his son who is very ill, and needed medical treatment in India."

Khan Zaman, who was also in the queue for a visa, said: "We were standing in lines, the police told the men to stand on one side and the women in another. Then suddenly I heard a huge bang and I sat down, I was very afraid." Ghulam Dastagir, a wounded shopkeeper, said: "Several other shopkeepers have died."

A Taliban spokesman, Zabibullah Mujahid, later denied that its militants were responsible for the embassy car bomb.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam