The people of Kabul are losing patience with the weak and divided government of President Ashraf Ghani after a suicide truck bomb ripped through the city’s diplomatic quarter, killing 90 people and wounding more than 400.
Wednesday’s grisly attack - the latest in a series of grim extremist incidents carried out by the Taliban and Isis across Afghanistan since the withdrawal of international troops in 2014 - occurred at rush hour at a busy intersection, setting dozens of cars on fire and shattering windows a kilometre (0.5 miles) away.
With no claim of responsibility, it is unclear what the intended target was. What is certain is that the incident took place inside Kabul’s heavily-fortified diplomatic district, metres away from the German embassy building and a stone’s throw from the Presidential Palace - an area which is supposedly the safest in the city.
While a number of foreign nationals were harmed, all of the dead were - as usual - Afghan citizens. A number of people are still missing.
As they mourn loved ones at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, Kabul’s residents are increasingly angry at the chronically fragile security situation.
“For God's sake, what is happening to this country?,” Ghulam Sakhi, a shoemaker whose shop is close to the site of the blast, said to Reuters.
“People leave home to fetch a loaf of bread for their children and later that evening, their dead body is sent back to the family.”
While the Taliban issued a statement shortly after the incident denying responsibility and condemning the excessive loss of civilian life, many observers believe the insurgent group is to blame for the carnage, rather than Isis, which has also carried out recent high-profile attacks.
Kabul bomb blast kills at least 90 people
Kabul bomb blast kills at least 90 people
A man reacts in shock after a suicide car bombing in a diplomatic zone of Kabul, Afghanistan, left at least 80 people dead
The Taliban has denied responsibility for the deadly suicide car bombing that set more than 50 cars alight
Two Afghan men carry one of the many injured in the attack
A man tries to drive his vehicle heavily damaged in the blast
Two men walk away from the scene, covered in blood
The bomb was detonated near the German embassy in the city’s heavily guarded diplomatic district
One of many cars destroyed in the attack burns
The attack sent plumes of smoke over Afghanistan’s capital
Several buildings have been damaged in the blast
The car bombing is thought to be one of the most deadly attacks ever to hit the capital
Wounded victims lie on their beds in Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital in Kabul
Relatives of Afghan victims mourn outside a hospital after the blast in Kabul
Crowds in Kabul survey the damage after the deadly attack
Afghanistan's main intelligence agency has blamed the Haqqani network, an affiliate group directly integrated into the Taliban, claiming it acted with the help of Pakistan's intelligence service (a claim denied by the Pakistani foreign ministry).
In what is being viewed as a move aimed at placating his critics, President Ghani on Thursday reportedly ordered the revenge execution of 11 Taliban militants currently on death row.
The Taliban responded by warning the government against harming any of their prisoners, threatening retribution for which “the government will be responsible.”
Calls for senior members of the government and security services to step down are growing across the country.
There are dozens of checkpoints at which vehicles are stopped on their way into Kabul, but a high-tech security gates and scanners funded by China delivered a year ago have still not been set up because of bureaucratic hold-ups.
“Right now, thousands of our people are in mourning. Why and for how long do we have to suffer this situation?” said shopkeeper Enayatullah Mohammadi. “We want our leaders to ensure security in the country and if they can't, they should resign,” he added.
Although the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan following the US invasion of 2001, it has steadily regained ground since US and allied troops left in 2014, and is now in control of some 40 per cent of the country.
The chaos has also allowed Isis’ Afghan affiliate to flourish, complicating the war against Islamist insurgents.
In March the Pentagon urged US President Donald Trump to send reinforcement troops to cope with the deteriorating security situation.
Around 8,400 US military staff and 5,000 soldiers from Nato ally countries are currently deployed to Afghanistan.Reuse content