Around 21 peopled were killed and 40 injured when a suicide attack occurred near the Supreme Court in the centre of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Tuesday.
The attacker detonated the vehicle in the parking lot of the court compound, located several blocks from the U.S. Embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul just as employees were leaving. The dead included nine women and a child, according to the Ministry of Public Health.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban insurgents have conducted numerous attacks against judges, courthouses and legal officials. In 2013, a Taliban bomber drove a car full of explosives into a bus carrying Supreme Court workers, after which high blast walls were built around the complex. In 2015, a bomber killed five federal prosecutors in the capital.
President Ashraf Ghani — who was visiting the remote province of Nuristan, where more than 50 people died in recent avalanches — condemned the attack as a “crime against humanity and an unforgivable act.” An official of the NATO military mission in Afghanistan, Italian army Lt. Gen. Rosario Castellano, said “anyone who seeks to destabilize the pillars of a functioning government are enemies of Afghanistan.”
The Supreme Court was locked down after the attack out of fear that gunmen might storm the building.
“The time the blast happened — it was right when Supreme Court employees were leaving work for home,” said Sediq Zhobel, head of broadcasting at the court. Mr. Zhobel said the occupants of the building were put under lockdown before security forces came in and cleared them through a different gate.
Mohammad Reza, 63, who lives nearby, said the blast was powerful enough to shatter his windows.
“I saw several bodies on ground, most of them were dead and some were wounded,” he said. “About a dozen ambulances came to transfer the victims to hospital.”
The daytime attack came less than a month after insurgent bombers killed more than 30 people and wounded more than 70 in twin blasts near the national Parliament building, and carried out bombings in two provincial capitals the same day that killed more than 20 people.
The latest assaults also followed alarming international reports on the Afghan conflict.
One tally indicated that a record number of civilians were killed and wounded in fighting last year as the Taliban continued to regain territory, leaving only about 57 percent of the country under firm government control. The U.N. report on casualties said almost 3,500 Afghan civilians died and about 7,900 were injured last year.
In response to the report, the Taliban in a statement criticized the United Nations for the criteria it had used in defining someone as a civilian. The insurgents mentioned, in particular, those “who issue execution orders” of their fighters — essentially saying they did not consider court workers to be civilians.