28 Jan 2018

NZer one of more than 100 killed in Afghan bomb attack

11:11 pm on 28 January 2018

A New Zealander is one of the more than 100 people now believed to have been killed in a suicide bombing which injured 191 others in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

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Afghan security personnel arrive after the car bomb exploded. Photo: AFP

Attackers drove an ambulance laden with explosives past a police checkpoint in a secure zone, home to government offices and foreign embassies.

Afghanistan's government has declared a day of mourning for Sunday, as funerals take place and relatives search hospitals for survivors.

One of those killed was Auckland doctor Hashem Slaimankhel, who was due to fly back to New Zealand today. Mr Slaimankhel moved to New Zealand in the early 1990s as a refugee and worked in refugee resettlement for the Auckland District Health Board.

Mr Slaimankhel was an elder member of Auckland's Muslim community.

Hashem Slaimankhel.

Hashem Slaimankhel. Photo: Facebook

Ponsonby Mosque secretary Firoz Patel said Mr Slaimankhel, who had been on a family trip to Kabul since November, was a well respected member of the Muslim community.

"As a person he was a very jolly, lively person, and he was willing to help anybody at anytime no matter what the issues are."

Mr Patel said Mr Slaimankhel had been in Kabul visiting family, and was due to fly back to New Zealand on Sunday night.

He said people were visiting Mr Slaimankhel's brother's home in Auckland to pay their respects.

His long time friend and colleague at the Refugee Council, Dr Arif Said, said Mr Slaimankhel always put others before himself.

"He did a lot of, a lot of work, it did not matter for him if someone called him 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock at night - he was there whenever people needed him."

His family are now preparing to fly over to Afghanistan to have a funeral, before having a ceremony in New Zealand next week.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the death, and said it was providing assistance to Mr Slaimankhel's family.

The ministry said 12 New Zealanders were registered on Safe Travel as being in Afghanistan, and there were no indications any other Kiwis were affected by the terrorist attack.

Afghan security officials inspect the blast side in Kabul. Afghanistan on January 27, 2018. 

 Haroon Sabawoon / Anadolu Agency

Afghan security officials inspect the blast side in Kabul. Haroon Sabawoon / Anadolu Agency Photo: 2018 Anadolu Agency

What happened in the latest attack?

Witnesses say the area - also home to offices of the European Union, a hospital and a shopping zone known as Chicken Street - was crowded with people when the bomb exploded on Saturday at about 12:15 local time.

Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said the attacker got through a security checkpoint after telling police he was taking a patient to nearby Jamhuriat hospital.

He detonated the bomb at a second checkpoint, said Mr Rahimi.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the use of an ambulance was "harrowing".

Afghan medical staff treat a wounded man after a car bomb exploded near the old Interior Ministry building, at Jamhuriat Hospital in Kabul. January 27, 2018.

Afghan medical staff treat a wounded man after a car bomb exploded near the old Interior Ministry building, at Jamhuriat Hospital in Kabul. Photo: AFP

Who are the Taliban?

  • The hardline Islamic Taliban movement swept to power in Afghanistan in 1996 after the civil war which followed the Soviet-Afghan war, and were ousted by the US-led invasion five years later, but returned to run some key areas
  • In power, they imposed a brutal version of Sharia law, such as public executions and amputations, and banned women from public life
  • Men had to grow beards and women to wear the all-covering burka; television, music and cinema were banned
  • They sheltered al-Qaeda leaders before and after being ousted - since then they have fought a bloody insurgency which continues today
  • In 2016, Afghan civilian casualties hit a new high - a rise attributed by the UN largely to the Taliban
  • Civilian casualties remained at high levels in 2017, the UN said


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