The Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Thursday for a deadly bombing that killed at least five people near the Foreign Ministry in the Afghan capital the previous day.
The bombing was the second major attack in Kabul in 2023 and drew condemnation from the international community.
The extremist group said in a statement that a “martyrdom-seeker" it identified as Kheiber al-Qandahari detonated his explosive vest amidst a gathering of ministry employees and guards as they left through the ministry's main gate.
There was no immediate response from Afghanistan's Taliban rulers about the IS claim.
Kabul police chief spokesman Khalid Zadran said on Wednesday that the explosion killed five civilians and that “a number of others were wounded" near the ministry.
The IS news outlet Aamaq said the attack coincided with a ministry training course for diplomats.
The extremists have increased their assaults since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of the country's Shiite minority.
After Wednesday's attack, more than 40 wounded people were brought to a surgical center in Kabul run by Emergency NGO, a humanitarian organisation.
Stefano Sozza, Emergency's director in Afghanistan, said at the time that he expected the number of casualties to rise.
The attack drew condemnation from the United Nations and various countries. In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistan said it stood in solidarity with Afghans in the fight against militants.
Explosion near Foreign Ministry in Kabul kills 5
An explosion near the Foreign Ministry in the Afghan capital on Wednesday killed five people and wounded several others, a Taliban police spokesman said, the second prominent attack in Kabul so far in 2023.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province — has increased its assaults since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of the country's Shiite minority.
The mid-afternoon explosion was followed by peals of sirens. Taliban security forces prevented journalists from getting close to the site, threatening them with guns and telling them to leave.
Kabul police chief spokesman Khalid Zadran said security teams have been deployed to the site. Later he said that as the result of the explosion, “five of our civilians were killed and a number of others were wounded."
Zadran offered no other details on the source of the blast or say how many people were wounded. Taliban government officials did not respond to requests seeking additional comment.
More than 40 wounded were brought to a surgical center in Kabul run by Emergency NGO, a humanitarian organization. Stefano Sozza, Emergency's director in Afghanistan, said casualty numbers were continuing to rise as the situation unfolded.
“The death toll is still rising,” he said. “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.”
Checkpoints line the fortified route to the ministry, which is on one of the roads leading to the presidential palace. Guards stop and search vehicles and people along the way.
A photograph posted on social media, purportedly of the blast site, shows at least six bodies on the ground.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who lives near the ministry, condemned the explosion, calling it an “act of terrorism, a crime against humanity and an act against all human and Islamic values.” He expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished the wounded a swift recovery.
Pakistan said it stood in solidarity with Afghans in the fight against the scourge of terrorism, while the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said the rising insecurity was of “grave concern.”
In the earlier attack this year in Kabul, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a bombing near a checkpoint at the city's military airport that killed and wounded several people. There have been no official casualty figures for that attack so far.
IS also claimed an assault on a Kabul hotel in mid-December.
(With AP Inputs)