KABUL: An explosion outside the Russian Embassy in Kabul killed at least six people, including two staff from the diplomatic mission, and injured several others, police in the Afghan capital said on Monday.
The blast went off at around 11 a.m. as the attacker was shot dead by security forces approaching the entrance of the embassy’s consular section, in one of the first such attacks since the Taliban took power last year.
“A suicide bomber wanted to detonate himself in the crowd near the Russian Embassy,” Khalid Zadran, the Taliban’s Kabul police spokesperson, said in a statement.
“But before reaching his goal, the security forces targeted him, which caused the explosion.”
Police have since cleared the area and launched a “comprehensive investigation,” into the attack. At least four civilians and two embassy staff were killed in the blast, Zadran has confirmed.
The explosion occurred as dozens of people were lining up in front of the embassy, according to eyewitnesses’ accounts.
“I just reached the area when I heard a very powerful sound of explosion,” Abdul Ghafar, a high school student in Kabul, told Arab News.
“I saw several bodies on the street,” he said, adding that he had seen at least 20 killed and injured at the scene.
Mohammad Javed, who was working at a shop located near the embassy when the blast happened, said there had been around 60 people queuing near the mission.
“For a few moments there was just smoke, and then we saw several bodies on the ground,” Javed told Arab News.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, which confirmed the killing of at least two of their employees in Kabul, said officials from Moscow are “in close contact with Afghanistan’s security services” following Monday’s attacks.
Russia is one of the few countries which have maintained an embassy in Kabul after the Taliban returned to power over a year ago.
During the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, bombings targeting foreign missions had occurred several times in Kabul, leading to embassies and hotels fortifying their properties with razor wire and blast walls.
But the incidents have decreased dramatically since last year, as Afghanistan has seen improved security across the country, although several attacks — some claimed by the Daesh — have taken place targeting the Taliban and public places, including mosques.
No group has claimed responsibility for Monday’s blast as of publication time.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry in a statement said it “strongly condemns” the incident, as it expressed condolences to the Russian government and people, as well as families of the victims.
“Our security agencies have started a comprehensive investigation regarding the incident and will take serious steps for the security of the embassy so that such potential threats do not hinder the work of the embassy,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson of the Afghan foreign ministry, said.