By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, (AA): Eleven people, including five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been killed in a double bomb attack in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.
The attack late Tuesday targeted the governor’s compound during a visit by the UAE ambassador. Both the governor, Humayun Azizi, and Ambassador Juma al-Kaabi were wounded in the blast.
Samim Khapalwak, the governor’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency Azizi was in a critical condition.
A spokesman for the provincial government initially said 12 people had died in the attack, including Kandahar Deputy Governor Abdul Ali Shamsi and Yama Quraishi, an Afghan diplomat to the U.S., but this figure was later revised.
Kandahar provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq, who was unhurt in the attack, told reporters at a news conference that one bomb had been planted under a chair following renovation work at the guest house of the governor’s residence.
At least five people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack, he said.
Raziq accused the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network of orchestrating the attack and said he was the main target of the attack.
“The Haqqani Network, other terrorist groups and the ISI have long been trying to eliminate the Kandahar Security Council and they managed to carry out this attack last evening,” Raziq said, referring to Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence.
He confirmed that five UAE diplomats and six high-ranking Afghan officials had been killed.
The Khaama Press news agency reported the bomb had been planted in the guest house and also reported a Taliban denial of the attack. In a tweet, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the bombing was an “enemy internal dispute, not connected with Mujahidin”, the agency reported.
– Humanitarian mission
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The explosion followed four other attacks on Tuesday, including a twin bombing in the capital Kabul that killed at least 45.
The UAE delegation was at the site to take part in an inauguration ceremony for an aid project.
“The UAE ambassador’s visit to Kandahar was on humanitarian mission within the program of the UAE to support the brotherly Afghan people,” the UAE Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It added: “In these difficult moments, the ministry… in conjunction with the armed forces and the concerned state authorities as well as the Afghan government is following up the developments of this terrorist attack.”
The UAE officials were also due to sign an agreement with Kardan University in Kabul to offer UAE-funded scholarships.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack and National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar arrived in Kandahar to lead the investigation.
The dead Emiratis were named Mohammed Ali Zainal al-Bastaki, Abdullah Mohammed Essa Obaid al-Kaabi, Ahmed Rashid Salim Ali al-Mazroui, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Ahmad al-Tunaiji, and Abdul Hamid Sultan Abdullah Ibrahim al-Hammadi.
With Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the UAE was the only country to recognize the Taliban’s rule from 1996 to 2001.
[Photo: Afghan security officials inspect the blast site outside the Parliament building in Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 11, 2017.
Photographer: Muhabiri Haroon Sabawoon/AA]