A local arm of the Isis militant group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing near Afghanistan’s foreign ministry in capital Kabul that has killed at least 20 people and injured dozens more.
Claiming responsibility for the second major attack in the Taliban-run nation, Isis said its group’s member and “martyrdom-seeker” Kheiber al-Qandahari detonated his explosive vest outside the ministry as government employees and guards left through the main gate.
The local Isis offshoot, Isil, confirmed the attack in a statement published in its propaganda Amaq news agency.
Officials from the caretaker Taliban government said the explosion took place when a Chinese delegation was supposed to be at the foreign ministry to meet Taliban members.
Deputy minister of information and culture Muhajer Farahi said: “There was supposed to be a Chinese delegation at the foreign ministry today, but we don’t know if they were present at the time of the blast”.
At least 20 civilians were killed in the blast and many others have been injured, said Ustad Fareedun, a Taliban information ministry official.
He added that the suicide bomber had planned to get inside the foreign ministry to carry out the attack but failed.
The Taliban has not released a statement about the Isis claim for the second deadly attack in Afghanistan in a month.
One verified photo of the attack showed at least nine people wounded or killed outside the ministry, as security forces attended to them.
Health officials aiding Afghanistan said more than 40 wounded people were brought to a surgical centre in Kabul after the attack.
Isis has come into a direct collison course with the Taliban in Afghanistan as tensions have soared between the militant groups after an increased number of terror attacks in the country since the Taliban came into power in August 2021.
The attacks have been aimed at Taliban patrols and members of the country’s Shia minority.
In a previous attack on 1 January, Isis carried out a bombing near a checkpoint at the Afghan capital’s military airport that killed and wounded several people.
Isis said the attack on the checkpoint was carried out by the same member who took part in an assault on a hotel in the capital in December last year.
Isis claimed responsibility for the attack on the Longan hotel in central Kabul’s Shahr-e-Naw area where Chinese and other foreigners usually stay.
Five Chinese nationals were wounded in the attack, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had said.
The Taliban later followed up on the hotel and airport attacks by conducting a raid that it said led to the killing of eight Isis fighters and the arrests of seven others.