The United Arab Emirates has confirmed the killing of five of its diplomats in Tuesday’s bomb attack in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar.
The blast killed a total of at least 11 people and wounded 16 others, mostly top Afghan government officials. Provincial governor Homayun Azizi and UAE ambassador to Kabul, Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi, were among those wounded.
“There is no justification humane or moral or religious to bomb and kill those who seek to help people .. God bless our martyrs and acceptance with him in righteous,” Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's prime minister and vice president, said on Twitter Wednesday
The UAE foreign ministry said Tuesday that its ambassador traveled to Kandahar on a humanitarian mission aimed at helping Afghan orphans and announcing scholarships.
Taliban denies involvement
The Taliban insurgency has denied involvement, saying it did not plant the bomb and instead blamed an "internal local rivalry" for the attack.
Presidential spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri, told reporters in Kabul that a high-powered team led by the national security advisor has been sent to Kandahar to investigate the terrorist attack.
Some Afghan commentators have accused neighboring Iran of being behind the bombing. They cited recent arrests of several Iranian nationals in western Herat province and allegations by the governor of neighboring Farah province that the Taliban is receiving Iranian military assistance.
Both the Afghan provinces border Iran. Tehran denies the charges it is helping the Islamist insurgency militarily though it has admitted maintaining "political" contacts with the Taliban.
“Until the investigations are concluded, we cannot say anything at this stage. When the probe is over, we shall be able to share its details with you be it about Herat, Farah or for that matter yesterday’s Kandahar incident,” said Chakhansuri when his attention was drawn to Iran’s alleged role.
Afghan firefighters wash the site of a twin bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 10, 2017.
The Kandahar attack occurred shortly after twin suicide bombings in the Afghan capital killed 37 people and wounded 98 others. The Afghan Health Ministry issued the revised figures Wednesday.
The victims included government employees, security officials, pedestrians and lawmakers. The bombers targeted a convoy leaving parliament offices.
A Taliban spokesman swiftly claimed responsibility, saying a suicide bomber blew himself up moments before another bomber detonated his explosives-laden car.
The United States has strongly condemned the violence in Afghanistan.
“An attack on parliamentarians is, frankly, an attack on democracy. We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington.
He reiterated that Washington stands strongly with the Afghan nation and remains firmly committed to building a secure, peaceful, and prosperous future for Afghanistan.
The Taliban also claimed a gun-and-bomb attack on a security meeting in Lashkargah, the capital of the southern Helmand province. That attack killed 10 people and wounded 10 others, mostly top security officials.