The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s suicide bombing outside the foreign ministry in Kabul. At least 6 people were killed and 40 injured in the attack. News from AFP.

An IS member slipped through a Taliban security barrier ‘before detonating his explosive belt between staff and guards’, the Amaq news agency of Islamic State’s local chapter said on the Telegram messaging app.

An AFP team was conducting an interview inside the Information Ministry next door when the blast occurred on Wednesday. A company driver waiting outside saw a man carrying a bag and a rifle slung over his shoulder walking before blowing himself up.

Jamshed Karimi said, ‘He passed my car and after a few seconds there was a loud explosion. Saw 20 to 25 casualties. I saw the man blow himself up.’

Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said the explosion killed five civilians and wounded several others.

The local IS branch known as Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) claimed that at least 20 people were killed in the blast, including some ‘diplomatic’ staff.’

Italian non-governmental organization Emergency NGO said they received more than 40 injured people. They run a hospital in Kabul. The agency said in a statement that the number of casualties continues to rise. We have also set up beds in the kitchen and canteen.’

A video verified by news agency AFP showed bodies lying on the road outside the ministry’s high-walled compound marked by Taliban flags. A few injured people lay screaming on the ground, screaming for help, and a handful of onlookers jumped in to help.

The ministry itself did not seem to be badly damaged. The blast also shattered the windows of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“There was supposed to be a Chinese delegation at the Foreign Ministry today, but we don’t know if they were present at the time of the explosion,” Information and Culture Deputy Minister Muhajer Farahi told AFP.

However, a senior official of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ahmedullah Muttaki, said that no foreigner was present in the ministry during the suicide bombing.

US special envoy to Afghanistan Tom West tweeted that diplomats had ‘reported at least 20 dead and many more injured. This violence has no purpose.’

IS has in recent months claimed a similar attack targeting foreigners or foreign interests, while the Taliban has been trying to attract investment from neighboring countries. At least five Chinese nationals were injured when gunmen attacked a hotel popular with Chinese businessmen in Kabul last month.

That operation was also claimed to have been carried out by IS. It also claimed responsibility for an attack on the Pakistani embassy in Kabul in December. Islamabad condemned the attack as an ‘assassination attempt’ on its ambassador.

Neighboring China has maintained diplomatic ties with Afghanistan’s new rulers, saying it was ready for “friendly and cooperative” relations after the Taliban swept into Kabul in August 2021.

Beijing has not recognized the Taliban government but has looked to investing in Afghanistan’s ample mineral reserves. In October, an attack on a mosque in Kabul’s Interior Ministry grounds killed four and wounded 25, which survivors said was a suicide bombing.

In another attack claimed by IS, two Russian embassy workers were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September. Hundreds of people, including members of Afghanistan’s minority communities, have been killed and wounded in other attacks since the Taliban regained power.

The Islamic State group’s regional chapter in Afghanistan is known as Islamic State-Khorasan, a historical term that it hopes to rule across India, Iran and Central Asia.

(January 12)