Kabul, the capital of Afghan witnessed a roadside bomb blast which ended up taking the lives of as many as 10 people. The attack is believed to have targeted their first vice president, Amrullah Saleh. Sources confirm that Mr Saleh, a former head of the Afghan intelligence services, escaped with slight burns on his face and hand.
The bombing came as Afghan officials and the Taliban prepared to begin their first formal talks. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, however said in a tweet that the militant group was not responsible for the blast.
Footage filmed shortly after the explosion showed a large plume of black smoke rising from the scene.
Tareq Arain, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry, said the roadside bomb targeted Mr Saleh’s convoy as the official travelled to work. Mr Arain said 10 civilians who worked in the area were killed and 15 people, including one of Mr Saleh’s bodyguards, were wounded.
One of the witnesses to the explosion said he was driving past the location on the way to a clinic when the bomb detonated. “I lost one of my brothers, and the other one is hurt,” the man said when being interviewed soon after the blast. “What kind of government is this? There’s no ambulance, and even the police haven’t arrived yet.”
Mr Saleh who is known as a vocal opponent of the Taliban, and the former intelligence chief has survived several previous assassination attempts, including one last year that killed 20 people at his office. Speaking after the blast on Wednesday, he vowed to continue his political work.
The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met Mr Saleh on Wednesday morning, after the attack. “The terrorists and their foreign backers cannot undermine the people’s strong faith in peace, democracy and the bright future of our country,” He said in a statement.
A European Union delegation in Afghanistan condemned the attack, calling it a “desperate act by spoilers of peace efforts, who must be collectively confronted”.
Afghan officials are expected to begin long delayed talks with the Taliban in the coming days in Doha, Qatar, in an attempt to reach a political reconciliation after years of bloodshed.