Thursday, June 01, 2017

Taliban warns against retaliation over Kabul attack

The Taliban warned the Afghan government on Thursday against harming any of their prisoners after reports that President Ashraf Ghani would order the execution of 11 militants on death row in revenge for the devastating truck bomb attack in Kabul.

Ghani's fragile and divided government has come under increasing pressure over its failure to provide security following a series of high-profile attacks that have killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians so far this year.

Wednesday's blast, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ripped through a traffic-clogged street, packed with people on their way to school or work during the morning rush hour, causing hundreds of casualties in an instant and sending a tower of black smoke into the sky.

One of the worst such attacks since the U.S.-led campaign to oust the Taliban in 2001, it was only the latest in a grim series that has killed thousands of civilians over the years.

Salim Rasouli, head of hospitals in Kabul, said 80 dead and 461 wounded had been brought to the city's hospitals but at least 10 other people were known to be missing and believed dead, with relatives still searching morgues and hospitals more than 24 hours after the blast.

"For God's sake, what is happening to this country?," said Ghulam Sakhi, a shoemaker whose shop is close to the site of the blast. "People leave home to fetch a loaf of bread for their children and later that evening, their dead body is sent back to the family."

The Taliban have denied responsibility. But the National Directorate for Security, Afghanistan's main intelligence agency, has blamed the Haqqani network, an affiliate group directly integrated into the Taliban, and said it had acted with the help of Pakistan's intelligence service.

A spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry rejected the allegations as baseless, saying the accusations would be "unhelpful towards efforts for peace".- More

Taliban warns against retaliation over Kabul attack | Reuters


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