Deadly explosion at Kabul military airfield

The blast happened before 8am and security forces have sealed off the area

Afghan Taliban fighters check the site of an explosion outside the military airport in Kabul on January 1, 2023. AP Photo
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An explosion at the entrance of a military airfield in Kabul killed and wounded several people on Sunday, an Interior Ministry spokesman has said.

Abdul Nafi Takour said, "a number of our compatriots" were killed in the blast, without providing exact figures.

"Today morning an explosion took place outside Kabul military airport, due to which a number of our citizens were martyred and injured," he told Reuters, adding that investigations are underway.

He did not specify the nature or target of the explosion.

Residents of the Afghan capital said they heard a loud explosion before 8 am on the military side of the city's heavily fortified international airport, Reuters reported.

The area was sealed off by security forces, and all roads were closed, residents said.

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers say they have improved security since seizing power in August 2021, but there have been dozens of bomb blasts and attacks in the country, many claimed by ISIS.

The terrorist group has launched attacks on key sites in Kabul in recent weeks, including the Russian and Pakistani embassies and the office of the former prime minister.

The group also claimed an attack on December 12 on a Kabul hotel that is popular with Chinese businessmen. Five Chinese citizens were among 18 people injured before Taliban security forces killed the three attackers.

Hundreds of people, including members of Afghanistan's minority communities, have been killed and wounded in attacks since the Taliban returned to power.

Analysts say the targeting of the embassies and the hotel appear to be part of a trend of attacks aimed at scaring off any foreign investors or partners interested in working with the Taliban-led government.

Afghanistan's new rulers have faced international isolation since they stormed Kabul and deposed the Western-backed government and they are under pressure to stabilise an economy hit by banking sanctions and a cut in development aid.

"The idea is to push potential partners — the few the Taliban can count on — away from the Taliban," said Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Washington-based Wilson Centre.

Updated: January 01, 2023, 12:38 PM