Death toll rises to 23 in bombing outside foreign ministry in Kabul

Aftermath of attack on Ministry of Foreign Affairs compound in Kabul.

The death toll from a deadly bombing in front of the main gate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in downtown Kabul on Wednesday rose to at least 23 people, all of them former employees of the ministry who had worked there for years, a Taliban official from the foreign affairs ministry told Amu on Thursday.

The Taliban official said the casualties rose to 23 on Thursday afternoon and that four Taliban members have been wounded in the attack.

The photos of at least nine employees of the ministry of foreign affairs who worked in the ministry under the previous government – ahead of August 2021 – are widely circulated on social media over the past 24 hours after the attack.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a suicide bomber affiliated with the group carried out the bombing.

Sibghatullah Ahmadi, a former spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs and a current spokesman for the anti-Taliban resistance front, in a tweet said that at least 50 employees of the ministry, who worked there ahead of the fall of the government to the Taliban, were killed or wounded in the attack.

He claimed that a number of Taliban guards opened fire on the foreign ministry employees who were leaving the ministry following the attack.

Taliban has not commented on Ahmadi’s remarks. Taliban said five people were killed in the attack, calling the bombing as a heinous act.

The Emergency NGO said however that the Surgical Centre of the Emergency Hospital in Kabul received more than 40 patients following the explosion.

“Casualty numbers are continuing to rise as the situation unfolds. This was the first mass casualty incident handled by EMERGENCY’s hospital in the capital in 2023. The Surgical Centre handled 29 mass casualty incidents in 2022,” the hospital said in a statement issued soon after the explosion happened.

“We have received more than 40 patients in the hospital, it is difficult to draw up a final number, we are continuing to respond,” explained Stefano Sozza, EMERGENCY’s Country Director in Afghanistan. “This is the first mass casualty in 2023, but certainly one of those with the most patients since the beginning of 2022. So much so that we have also set up beds in the kitchens and canteen.”

In 2022, EMERGENCY treated more than 12,800 patients in its Kabul hospital, including more than 2,500 admissions and over 4,500 surgeries. Of the latter, 99% were gunshot or explosion wounds and stabbings, the statement added.

Quoting a Taliban official, Reuters reported that at least 20 people were killed in the attack, which was claimed by Daesh hours after it happened.

According to figures collected by Amu, at least 10 employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are among those killed in the blast. The employees had worked at the ministry ahead of the fall of the republic government in August 2021.

The attack triggered global reactions, with US charge d’affaries for Afghanistan calling for finding out how and why such attacks are happening and what measures can be done to prevent such incidents from happening.