Truck Bomb Kills Scores in Kabul

Truck Bomb Kills Scores in KabulTruck Bomb Kills Scores in Kabul

A truck bomb exploded near an army compound in Kabul on Friday, killing at least 15 people and wounding hundreds, police and government officials said, in the first major attack in the Afghan capital since the Taliban announced a new leader.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, which wounded people in their sleep and damaged homes and shops. A Taliban spokesman said the group was looking into the incident and the government said an investigation had begun, Reuters reported.

The blast killed at least 15 people and wounded 248, President Ashraf Ghani’s office said. “Last night’s attack was a cowardly terrorist attack against civilians,” presidential spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi told reporters.

Friday’s explosion was the first bombing in Kabul since Mullah Akhtar Mansour took charge of the Taliban last week and followed a rare truck bomb attack in an eastern province on Thursday.

The compound targeted was used by Afghan intelligence officials, said a western security source who declined to be identified. Smaller bombs or suicide attacks are a weekly occurrence in the heavily fortified capital, but large truck bombs are rare.

  Fatal Copter Crash

Taliban said it shot down an Afghan military helicopter on Thursday, killing all 17 people on board, but a government official blamed a technical failure and said there had been no gunfire. Twelve soldiers and five crew died, said Gul Islam Seyal, a government spokesman in Zabul. “There were two helicopters ... One of them had a technical problem and contacted the other one and informed the pilot of an emergency landing. As soon as it landed, it caught fire.”

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi posted a message on Twitter claiming responsibility for the crash. The militants often exaggerate battlefield gains. The crash was a blow for a fledgling afghan air force whose resources have been stretched since the withdrawal of most international troops last year.