Five UAE officials were among 56 people killed in a string of bombings across Afghan cities, authorities said Wednesday. One of the attacks wounded the UAE ambassador to Afghanistan.
The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency identified the Emirati dead as Mohammed Ali Zainal al-Bastaki, Abdullah Mohammed Essa Obaid al-Kaabi, Ahmed Rashid Salim Ali al-Mazroui, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Ahmad al-Tunaiji, and Abdul Hamid Sultan Abdullah Ibrahim al-Hammadi.
They were “on a mission to carry out humanitarian, educational and development projects”, WAM added.
The Emiratis were among 13 people killed when explosives hidden in a sofa detonated inside the governor’s compound in southern Kandahar on Tuesday, while the UAE’s ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi escaped the attack with injuries.
An earlier UAE Foreign Ministry statement said the diplomats were in Kandahar as part of a humanitarian mission. Authorities said that included laying the foundation stone for the UAE-funded Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan orphanage and to sign an agreement with Kardan University for the UAE to fund scholarships there.
Kandahar’s governor Humayun Azizi and the UAE envoy were wounded by flames from the explosion, but many others were burned beyond recognition, said provincial police chief Abdul Raziq, who was at the scene when the blast occurred.
Just hours before, twin Taliban blasts in Kabul tore through employees exiting a parliament annex, which houses the offices of lawmakers, killing at least 36 people and wounding 80 others.
And earlier Tuesday, a Taliban suicide bomber killed seven people in Lashkar Gah, the capital of volatile Helmand province.
Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s prime minister and vice president, said on Twitter that “there is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help” others.
“This incident will in no way affect the relations and cooperation between Afghanistan and UAE,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, ordering an investigation into the bombing.
The Taliban denied responsibility for the Kandahar attack, but they said they were behind the Kabul blasts.