Afghan security forces use water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters on June 2, 2017, following a deadly bomb blast in Kabul which killed nearly 150 people. (Photo by AFP)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says the death toll from the deadly bomb blast in the Afghan capital city of Kabul has reached 150, as the country faces more deadly attacks in its major cities.
“Over 150 innocent Afghan sons and daughters were killed and more than 300 wounded were brought to hospitals with burns and amputations,” Ghani told an international peace conference in the capital on Tuesday.
This is while the Afghan officials previously put the number of the dead at 90.
Meanwhile, Afghan media reported that a heavy explosion was heard in Kabul on Tuesday morning.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed that a rocket from an unknown location landed in a tennis yard in Shash Darak area of Kabul city, without elaborating on any casualties or collateral damages.
Nine killed in Herat blast
Elsewhere in the Western city of Herat, a suspected bomb outside the city’s Grand Mosque killed at least nine people and wounded 15 on Tuesday.
Local officials say the explosives were probably hidden in a motorcycle left in a parking area outside the historic mosque.
Ultimatum to Taliban
Addressing the peace conference in Kabul, Ghani issued an ultimatum to the Taliban, warning them to embrace peace or “face consequences.”
“We are offering a chance for peace but this is not an open-ended offer… Time is running out… this is the last chance: take it or face consequences,” Ghani said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani leaves after an international peace conference in Kabul on June 6, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Afghan government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for Wednesday’s bombing. The Taliban have denied any role in the assault.
The Tuesday peace conference, dubbed the Kabul Process, hosted senior diplomats from about two dozen countries and organizations, including Iran, India, China, Pakistan, the US, the European Union, the United Nations and NATO.
The meeting, according to Afghan authorities, aims to draw international support on ways to restore security to the war-torn country which is still grappling with militancy despite the presence of thousands of foreign boots on the ground there.
Ghani has faced a barrage of criticism over the Wednesday bombing, the deadliest since 2001, with demonstrators staging deadly protests in the Afghan capital.
On Friday, Afghan riot police reportedly shot dead eight protesters during a violent anti-government demonstration in Kabul in protest at the deadly blast.
Afghan protesters also staged a sit-in near the bombing site in a high security diplomatic area in the heart of Kabul, demanding the ouster of the country’s security chiefs, including national security adviser Hanif Atmar.
The attacks have also exacerbated tensions between rival ethnic groups and raised the prospect of a political crisis as Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, who heads the mainly Tajik Jamiat political group, called for Atmar’s resignation on Monday.
However, President Ghani, who is an ethnic Pashtun, has firmly rejected the demand.
has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001, but many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.
In addition, the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has recently managed to take recruits from Afghan Taliban defectors.