September 5, 2022
ISLAMABAD — A blast near the entrance to the Russian embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Monday killed at least six people, including two employees of the diplomatic mission.
An “unidentified terrorist activated an explosive device” when a Russian diplomat stepped outside to announce the names of Afghan visa applicants standing in line, Russian state media reported, citing the foreign ministry and witnesses.
The fate of the diplomat was not immediately known.
Khalid Zadran, the Kabul police spokesman, said a suicide bomber carried out the attack but was killed by Taliban security guards before he could reach his target.
“The bomber intended to blow himself up in the crowd but security forces intercepted and targeted him before he could reach his goal, which caused the explosion,” Zadran said on Twitter.
Zadran confirmed the death of four Afghan civilians, adding the incident left at least 10 others injured.
Moscow’s embassy in Kabul “is in close contact with Afghanistan’s special services, who have launched a probe into the incident,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his counterpart from Tajikistan, Sirojiddin Muhriddin, paid tribute to the victims of the Kabul attack before commencing bilateral talks in Moscow.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly blast, the first such attack outside a diplomatic mission in the Afghan capital since the Taliban seized power a year ago.
Taliban foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said their security forces have launched “a comprehensive” investigation and will boost security at the embassy.
“The Islamic Emirate has close relations with the Russian Federation & will not allow the enemies to sabotage relations between both countries with such negative actions,” Balkhi said on Twitter.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the deadly attack and expressed its condolences to the families of those killed.
“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,” UNAMA said on Twitter.
The Islamist Taliban’s return to power has brought security to much of Afghanistan but bomb explosions targeting and killing pro-Taliban clerics and the country’s minority Shiite Muslim community have increased.
The self-proclaimed Islamist State’s Afghan affiliate, known as Islamist State Khorasan Province or ISIS-K, has claimed credit for plotting most of the attacks since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021 when the United States and NATO allies withdrew all their troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of war with the former insurgents.
China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan are among neighboring and regional countries that have kept their embassies running in Kabul since the Taliban takeover. The U.S. and other Western nations relocated their diplomatic missions to Doha, the capital of Qatar.