The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says five of its diplomats have lost their lives in the massive bomb explosion that ripped through a guesthouse in the troubled southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
The slain diplomats have been identified as as Mohammed Ali Zainal al-Bastaki, Abdullah Mohammed Essa Obaid al-Kaabi, Ahmed Rashid Salim Ali al-Mazroui, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Ahmad al-Tunaiji and Abdul Hamid Sultan Abdullah Ibrahim al-Hammadi, according to the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency.
The victims were reportedly in the violence-wracked country to inaugurate a number of UAE-backed humanitarian projects there.
Emirati Prime Minister, Vice President and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has strongly condemned the bombing in a post published on his official Twitter account, saying, “There is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help” others.
The UAE Foreign Ministry has also issued a statement, stressing that it is following up on the “heinous terrorist attack” and has set up a special operations room in conjunction with UAE armed forces and the Afghan government.
At least 11 people, including Kandahar’s deputy governor Abdul Ali Shamsi, lost their lives and 16 others sustained injuries when a powerful bomb explosion struck the heavily-guarded governor’s compound on Tuesday evening.
Yama Quraishi, an Afghan diplomat in the United States, was also among those killed.
An unnamed Afghan source said the explosives had been placed in sofas in the meeting room of the guesthouse, where a group of high-ranking Afghan officials had gathered to welcome the UAE ambassador.
The ambassador was in Kandahar to lay the foundation stone for an orphanage and to sign an agreement to offer scholarships in the UAE.
UAE Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi and Kandahar Governor Homayun Azizi were among the wounded.
Kandahar police chief General Abdul Raziq was also present at the meeting, but escaped unharmed.
The Taliban claimed attacks earlier on Tuesday in Kabul, which left nearly 40 people dead. However, the militant group issued a statement on Wednesday, blaming an “internal local rivalry” for the Kandahar assault.
The Taliban militants lost their grip over Afghanistan in the 2001 US-led invasion, but security has never taken hold in the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign boots on Afghan soil.
The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group is competing with the Taliban in acts of terror. Daesh has claimed responsibility for earlier attacks on Shia events and mosques.