What we know about the ambulance bombing in Kabul

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at the site of today’s car bomb attack in Kabul.
An Afghan policeman keeps watch at the site of today’s car bomb attack in Kabul.
Image: Reuters/Omar Sobhani
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Taliban suicide bombers drove an ambulance packed with explosives into the center of Kabul today, killing at least 95 people and injuring an estimated 160 others. 

According to media reports, the ambulance exploded early Saturday afternoon near an old interior ministry building on a street packed with embassies. Saturday is a work day in Afghanistan. The driver had reportedly (paywall) sped past an initial police checkpoint but was stopped at a second checkpoint for driving in the wrong lane.

A plume of smoke could be seen after the explosion, which destroyed the windows of nearby businesses and caused structural damage. The country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, condemned the attack on Twitter.

The suicide bombing caps a particularly violent week for the country. Last Saturday, Taliban extremists hit the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people during a 12-hour armed standoff (paywall) that ended Sunday morning. On Wednesday, gunmen stormed the offices of aid organization Save the Children in Jalalabad, killing five and wounding 25 in an attack claimed by the terrorist group ISIL (paywall). Yesterday, a suicide bomber killed four people in Kandahar, while at least seven civilians were killed in fighting in the Ghazni province.

In the almost two decades since the US began the war against the Taliban, thousands of Afghanis (pdf) have died from suicide and complex attacks, improvised explosive devices, and fighting between government forces and extremists. A record number of civilian casualties were recorded in 2017, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. In the midst of this violence and turmoil, young Afghanis are persevering in their attempts to put the country on the map for other things besides the conflict, from fashion to diplomacy.

US president Donald Trump had yet to respond to the attacks at the time of writing. In August, the president announced a new open-ended strategy for the US military’s involvement in Afghanistan.