9 Sep 2020

Kabul bomb: Deadly blast targets Afghan vice president

9:18 pm on 9 September 2020

A roadside bomb in Kabul targeted first Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh but he escaped unharmed, his spokesman said. The attack killed at least 10 people.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 09: Damaged vehicles are seen as people inspect at the site following a bomb attack targeting Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh's convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 09, 2020.

People respond as smoke rises from the scene of a bomb attack in Kabul. Photo: AFP

Saleh, a former Afghan intelligence services head, escaped with slight burns on his face and hand, he said.

Footage filmed shortly after the explosion showed a large plume of black smoke rising from the scene.

The blast came as Afghan officials and the Taliban are preparing to begin their first formal talks.

Saleh is known as a vocal opponent of the Taliban, and the former intelligence chief has survived several previous assassination attempts, including one last year that killed 20 people at his office.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that the militant group was not involved in the blast.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 09: Flame and smoke rise following a bomb attack targeting Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh's convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 09, 2020.

Photo: AFP

Tareq Arain, a spokesman for Afghanistan's interior ministry, said the explosion targeted Saleh's convoy as he travelled to work. He said 10 civilians who worked in the area were killed and 15 people, including one of Saleh's bodyguards, were wounded.

"Such attacks won't weaken our resolve for a lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan," Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a tweet.

Speaking after the blast, Saleh vowed to continue his political work.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who met Saleh soon after, condemned the attack.

"The terrorists and their foreign backers cannot undermine the people's strong faith in peace, democracy and the bright future of our country," Ghani said in a statement.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (C) shakes hands with his first vice-president Amrullah Saleh (L)  during his swearing-in at the inauguration ceremony as the country's leader

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, with first Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh. [file pic] Photo: AFP

A European Union delegation in Afghanistan condemned the attack, calling it a "desperate act by spoilers of peace efforts, who must be collectively confronted".

Afghan officials are expected to begin long delayed talks with the Taliban in the coming days in Doha, Qatar, in an attempt to reach a political reconciliation after years of bloodshed.

Officials and diplomats have warned that rising violence is sapping trust needed for the success of talks aimed at ending an insurgency that began when the Taliban was ousted from power in Kabul by US-backed forces in late 2001.

-BBC / Reuters

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