KABUL: An explosion in Kabul on Sunday killed seven people in a convoy of mostly armed men marking the death anniversary of Ahmad Shah Masood, one of Afghanistan’s legendary figures. Meanwhile, scores of security forces lost their lives in a spate of attacks by Taliban combatants elsewhere in the country.
Police said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber who had mingled in one of the long convoys of vehicles and motorbikes in which the armed men drove for hours in Kabul’s streets. He opened fire into the air in a sustained manner and created panic among tens of thousands of people in the city.
The incident caused lawlessness, disorder and disrupted businesses and people’s lives, and the blast led to the drastic reduction of firing and disbursement of the gunmen, residents said.
Before the blast, security forces early in the day said they shot and wounded another suicide bomber who wanted to detonate explosives on his body among another crowd of marchers near the monument of Masood outside the US embassy.
The protracted firing, mostly into the air by the marchers, left behind 13 people wounded, public health ministry spokesman Waheed Majorh told reporters.
The Emergency Hospital said it had received 34 injured patients.
Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai, in a message, said seven people were killed and 20 wounded in the blast.
The chaos lasted for more than eight hours and showed the inability of security forces and government to block it.
“There were lots of young men and kids who drove in vehicles without number plates, wielding knives and guns. We were all shocked,” Said Sameer, a Kabul resident, told Arab News.
Masood was an anti-Taliban top military figure who was killed by two men posing as reporters 17 years ago.
People considering themselves his fans drive in Kabul’s streets and fire into the air as part of mourning of his loss every year.
But this year the number of marchers was far greater than in past years and the firing happened in a protracted manner which forced many people in Kabul to stay indoors because of fear.
Family members of Masood and his former colleagues distanced themselves from today’s chaos.
Speaking in a function, CE Abdullah Abdullah, who served as Masood’s henchman, said the mayhem meant the “re-terrorization” of Masood.
Many people in Kabul chided the chaos and the government for failing to block it.
After the blast, however, which caused casualties and led to the scattering of the marchers, the government said it had arrested scores of them.
No group has asserted responsibility for the reported suicide attack.
While the government was grappling with the embarrassment of its inability to stop the chaos in Kabul, reports emerged about loss of scores of security forces in Taliban attacks in various areas of the country.
The major attack happened in an army base in Baghlan, which the Taliban seized after a protracted siege and clashes, provincial officials said.