Deadly suicide blast near US embassy in Kabul plays havoc

Deadly suicide blast near US embassy in Kabul plays havoc

KABUL — A suicide bomber struck near the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital on Tuesday, killing at least 13 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Mujro said another 20 people were wounded in the blast, which took place in a heavily-guarded area housing several diplomatic missions and the offices of international organizations.

IS claimed the bombing in a brief statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, without specifying the target.

“There were a number of dead bodies and wounded victims lying around,” said Ghulam Hazrat, who witnessed the attack. He said military and civilian ambulances arrived quickly.

A doctor assists a wounded man in Wazir Akbar Khan hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 31, 2017. An Afghan official says at least three people were killed after a suicide bomber carried out an attack in central Kabul, near the U.S. Embassy. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

The attack took place about 500 meters (yards) from the American Embassy, but there were no reports of foreigners killed or wounded.

Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said the bomber was on foot. The police promptly cordoned off the area of the attack.

An Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan has carried out several attacks in recent years, mainly targeting the country’s Shiite minority, which the Sunni extremists view as apostates. The IS affiliate is largely made up of disenchanted insurgents who left the much larger and more well-established Taliban.

Although both groups want to impose a harsh version of Islamic rule in Afghanistan, they are bitterly divided over leadership and ideology, and have clashed on a number of occasions.