Taliban attack German consulate in Afghanistan

“The suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into the wall of the German consulate in the city,” said local police chief Sayed Kamal Sadat.

The Taliban called it a “revenge attack” for a US airstrike in the volatile province of Kunduz earlier this month that left up to 32 civilians dead.

Sporadic gunfire rattled the usually tranquil city after the huge explosion, which smashed windows of nearby shops and left terrified local residents fleeing for cover.

German officials in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif were not immediately reachable for comment.

Afghan special forces cordoned off the area as helicopters were seen flying over the consulate and ambulances with wailing sirens rushed to the area.

At least two dead bodies and more than 100 wounded people – including at least ten children – had so far been brought to two local city hospitals, said Noor Mohammad Fayez, the head doctor. Some of the wounded are in critical condition, Fayez added.

Government spokesman Munir Farhad confirmed the attack, explaining to DPA that the blast had been so heavy that many windows in buildings around it were broken, causing most of the injuries. 

A resident of the area, Mirza Mohammad, told DPA that a few minutes after the explosion, he heard gunshots and someone yelling “allahu akbar” (God is the greatest) before everything turned silent.

At least two dead bodies and 32 wounded people had so far been brought to the local city hospital, said Noor Mohammad Fayez, the head doctor.

Local journalist Tahir Qadiry tweeted that 50 people, including seven women and 11 children, were wounded in the blast.

Qadiry also reported being told that German soldiers fired shots in the air to stop anyone approaching the compound.

A Bild journalist also tweeted what appears to be the Taliban’s claim of responsibility along with a photo of the compound.

The strikes killed several children, after a Taliban assault left two American soldiers and three Afghan special forces soldiers dead near Kunduz city.

The UN said it would investigate the strike.

The UN’s envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said after the incident that civilian casualties were unacceptable and undermined efforts to establish peace and stability in the country.

The carnage underscores worsening insecurity in Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents ramp up nationwide attacks despite repeated government attempts to jumpstart stalled peace negotiations.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the “martyrdom attack” on the German consulate had left “tens of invaders” dead. The insurgents are routinely known to exaggerate battlefield claims.

Civilian casualties caused by NATO forces have been one of the most contentious issues in the 15-year campaign against the insurgents, prompting strong public and government criticism.

Afghanistan’s worsening conflict has prompted US forces to step up airstrikes to support their struggling Afghan counterparts, fuelling the perception that they are increasingly being drawn back into the conflict.

The latest attack in Mazar-i-Sharif comes just two days after a bitter US presidential election.

Afghanistan got scarcely a passing mention in the election campaign – even though the situation there will be an urgent matter for the new president.

President-elect Donald Trump is set to inherit America’s longest war with no end in sight.

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