KABUL, Afghanistan – Two large bombs – one triggered by a suicide attacker – exploded near government offices Tuesday, killing at least 38 people and wounding dozens of others in the deadliest Taliban violence in Kabul in months.
In southern Afghanistan, another attack at a guesthouse belonging to the governor of Kandahar province killed five people and wounded 12. An ambassador from the United Arab Emirates and other UAE diplomats were among the wounded, authorities said.
The Kabul suicide bomber struck about 4 p.m. as workers were leaving a compound of government and legislative offices, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. The second bomb, which was planted in a car, exploded minutes later after security forces had rushed in to help the victims, he said.
The Taliban, who have been waging a 15-year war against the U.S.-backed government, claimed the attack in the capital.
The 38 dead included civilians and military personnel, and another 72 people were wounded, said Public Health Ministry official Mohibullah Zeer.
Among the wounded was Rahima Jami, a member of parliament from Herat province in western Afghanistan, said another lawmaker from the province, Ghulam Faroq Naziri.
It appeared to be the deadliest attack in Kabul since July, when two suicide bombers struck during a demonstration held by Hazaras, a Shiite Muslim ethnic group, killing 80 people. That attack was claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.
Fighting in Afghanistan tends to taper off during the winter, when mountain supply routes used by the insurgents are impassable.
President Asharf Ghani strongly condemned the Kabul bombings in a statement from the presidential palace.
Amnesty International said the bombings indicate that “the Taliban are pressing ahead with a gruesome campaign of violence that makes no effort to spare civilian lives.”
“Targeting first responders in a car bomb that killed many people that were on the street shows a chilling contempt for human life,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia director.
The White House also condemned the attacks, saying of the bombings in the capital: “An attack on Parliamentary buildings and lawmakers is clearly an assault on Afghanistan’s efforts to build democratic institutions.”
In the Kandahar attack, two explosions inside the governor’s compound killed five people and wounded 12, including several officials and the United Arab Emirates diplomats, authorities said.
Among the wounded was Gov. Homayun Azizi, his spokesman said. The spokesman, Samim Khpolwak, who also was slightly wounded, said it was not yet clear what caused the blasts.
Also hurt was UAE Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi and “a number of Emirati diplomats,” the UAE Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It had no other details on how many UAE envoys were wounded in what it called a “heinous” attack.
An attack inside the heavily guarded compound would represent a major breach of security.
Al-Kaabi presented his credentials to Afghan authorities in June.
The statement said the diplomats were in Helmand as part of a humanitarian mission.
Emirati combat troops had been sent to Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban. The UAE had troops for years as part of the NATO-led mission, and the Gulf federation also trained members of the Afghan armed forces. Multiple daily commercial flights link the countries, with Dubai serving as an important commercial hub for Afghan businessmen.
The Taliban also claimed a suicide bombing earlier in the day that killed seven people in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, said Gen. Agha Noor Kemtoz, the provincial police chief.
The bomber, who was on foot, attacked a guesthouse used by provincial intelligence officials, he said.
Civilians and military personnel were among the dead, and six others were wounded, Kemtoz added. A car full of explosives was found nearby.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.