In first targeted attack on embassy under Taliban rule, 2 Russian embassy staff killed in suicide attack in Western Kabul

Guess what? Two Russian embassy staff are among at least six people killed in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital Kabul, Russian and Taliban officials say.

Let’s deep dive into the developments:

  • At around 11:00am on Monday, an explosion occurred in front of the Russian Embassy, ​​located on Darul Aman Road, Kabul. A higher death toll is expected, with various media outlet reports saying that between eight and 10 people had been killed, while some security sources have stated that more than 20 people have been killed and wounded in the blast.
  • “Two members of the diplomatic mission were killed and there are also victims among Afghan citizens,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a tweet.
  • However, the Russian government did not name or announce the designation of the embassy staff killed in the explosion.
  • Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported earlier, citing anonymous sources, that the explosion caused 15-20 casualties, without specifying if it meant dead or wounded or both. It reported that the blast occurred when a Russian diplomat came out to the people queuing outside to call out the names of the candidates for a visa.
  • Khalid Zadran, Taliban’s spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said at least one civilian was killed and that 10 others were wounded. He said a suicide attacker tried to detonate a bomb in the crowd, but was identified by security forces who shot him.
  • “The suicide attacker before reaching the target, was recognised and shot by Russian embassy (Taliban) guards,” Mawlawi Sabir, the Taliban’s head of the police district where the attack took place, told Reuters.
  • Russia’s foreign ministry said “an unknown militant set off an explosive device near the entrance to the consular section”.
  • “Without any doubt, we are talking about a terrorist act, which is absolutely unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
  • There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, the latest to strike the country in the year since the Taliban seized power.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the Taliban to identify and punish the perpetrators of the suicide attack near the entrance of the country’s embassy in Kabul. Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the Russian embassy in Kabul is in close contact with the Taliban’s security establishment regarding the attack.
  • Meanwhile, Lavrov discussed Monday’s suicide attack with Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin in Moscow. According to the Russian media, Lavrov said that following this attack, security measures have increased around the Russian embassy in Kabul.
  • The Taliban Foreign Ministry announced that the group will not allow the suicide attack on the Russian embassy in Kabul to impact Kabul-Moscow relations. The ministry stressed that serious measures have been taken to ensure the security of embassies.
  • Taliban Foreign Ministry didn’t rule out future possible attacks on the embassies in Kabul, however, they said that they continue to make sure that the embassy’s activities aren’t disrupted.

Why it matters? Monday’s explosion raises serious questions about the state of affairs in the Taliban as an explosion at an embassy is a serious breach of security. Embassies and diplomatic missions are among the best-secure enclaves of national capitals across the world and an attack on embassy undermines the Taliban’s hold over the country.

  • The attack is the first on a foreign mission in Afghanistan since the Taliban swept to power in August 2021. Darulaman, the western Kabul neighborhood that hosts the Russian embassy, has been the site of attacks many times in the past. The Russian embassy in Kabul was also the site of a suicide bombing in 2016.
  • Russia is among the few countries to have kept its embassy functional in Kabul after the Taliban takeover of the country. Though it has not recognised the Taliban regime, it is in touch with its officials.
  • This is the latest bombing in Afghanistan, which closely follows a bombing in Herat on Friday in which at least 18 people were killed, including a top pro-Taliban cleric.

Zoom out: There have been condemnations across the globe regarding the explosion.

  • The UN mission in Afghanistan on Monday condemned the The UN mission in Afghanistan stressed the need for the Taliban to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the people as well as diplomatic missions.
  • The Taliban’s Foreign Ministry’s Spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said in a series of tweets that the Taliban condemned the attack and expressed its “deepest condolences and sympathy to the government and people of the Russian Federation, and the families of the victims.”
  • “Our security has launched a comprehensive investigation & will take further measures to safeguard the Embassy & prevent such probable incidents from hindering the Embassy’s activities,” he said.
  • The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Twitter that he held a phone conversation with the Russian special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, and condemned the attack. Karzai stressed the need for strengthening ties between Afghanistan and Russia.
  • The former chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, condemned the attack, saying that targeting civilians is against Islamic and human values.
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