Kabul bomb blast strikes Aussie convoy
A CAR bomb has exploded near Australian Embassy vehicles travelling in Kabul, killing an a young girl and wounding 22 people, Afghan officials said.
No Australians were injured in the attack, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
"The Australian government extends its sympathies to families and friends of people killed and injured by this attack," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in the statement on Friday.
"The attack again highlights the threat posed by terrorist and insurgent groups to the people of Afghanistan."
The explosion took place on Friday around 9.00am local time (4pm AEDT) near a vehicle belonging to "foreign" workers in the eastern part of the city, Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said.
Nasrat Rahimi, Danish's deputy spokesman, said a 12-year-old girl was killed in the blast.
According to Al Jazeera, Afghanistan's interior ministry confirmed the attack was a suicide bombing against "foreign forces".
Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the blast occurred in the neighbourhood of Qabil Bay, in an area that is home to a police station, the government's customs offices and some guesthouses.
Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the suicide bomber targeted a "convoy of foreigners" but did not offer further details or clarify whether it was foreign forces who were targeted or contractors.
Of the 22 wounded in the blast, Mohammad Musa Zahir, a doctor at the area's Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, said the injured included five children and two women.
No non-Afghan casualties were reported in the bombing. NATO forces in Kabul confirmed the attack was a suicide car bombing.
Capt. Tom Gresback, spokesman for the NATO-led forces, said in a statement that "no Resolute Support service members were injured in the incident," referring to the mission's name.
No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
At the blast site in the Qabil Bay neighbourhood, blood pooled on the pavement amid rubble in front of a destroyed building. Residents in the area were the first to say the explosion was a suicide attack, before Mr Danish's statement. They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their own safety.
Kabul has recently seen a spate of large-scale militant attacks by the Taliban and also the Islamic State group, whose affiliate in Afghanistan has grown stronger since it emerged in 2014.
In late January, a Taliban attacker drove an ambulance filled with explosives into the heart of the city, killing at least 103 people and wounding as many as 235.
The Taliban claimed the ambulance attack, as well as an attack a week earlier in which militants stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people, including 14 foreigners, and setting off a 13-hour battle with security forces. The recent attacks have underscored the weaknesses of Afghan security forces more than 16 years after the US-led invasion toppled the Taliban. On Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to take part in peace talks to "save the country," offering security and incentives such as passports to insurgents who join the negotiations.
"We fully endorse President Ghani's call for the Taliban to join the peace process," Gresback, the NATO spokesman, said in his statement. Meanwhile, the Taliban said Friday that they released five out of a total of 19 people they say they abducted on Tuesday along the boundary between the southern Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces.
At the time, Gen. Abdul Raziq, Kandahar's police chief, said insurgents wearing army uniforms stopped a bus and abducted 30 people. There was no information on the fate of the others.