Suicide blast hits Kabul airport road, casualties feared

bomb blast-ackcityA suicide car bomber struck near the entrance of Kabul’s international airport on Monday during the peak lunchtime period, officials said, warning that heavy casualties were expected.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which follows a wave of lethal bombings in the Afghan capital on Friday as the insurgency escalates after a bitter power transition within the Taliban.

“The explosion occurred at the first checkpoint of Kabul airport,” said deputy Kabul police chief Sayed Gul Agha Rouhani.

Kabul CID chief Fraidoon Obaidi said the explosion was caused by a suicide car bomb, and heavy casualties were feared.

Smoke billowed from the scene of the explosion. An AFP photographer saw pieces of charred flesh strewn around the checkpoint, where passengers undergo the first round of body checks before entering the airport.

Ambulances with wailing sirens rushed to the area and were seen removing bodies.

The blasts on Friday struck near an army complex, a police academy and a US special forces base, killing at least 51 people.

They were the first major attacks since Mullah Akhtar Mansour was named as the new Taliban chief in an acrimonious power transition after the insurgents confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.

The wave of violence underscores Afghanistan’s volatile security situation amid a faltering peace process.

The first face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban took place last month in the Pakistani hill town of Murree, aimed at ending the 14-year insurgency.

The Taliban distanced themselves from a second round of talks that were scheduled for the end of July after the announcement of Omar’s death.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed initiating another round of talks in a telephone call Sunday to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a senior official in Islamabad told AFP without elaborating.

Experts say insurgents are stepping up attacks as Mansour tries to distract attention from internal rifts over his leadership.

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