A bomb blast in Afghanistan's Kandahar region killed five Emirati diplomats and wounded more than a dozen others, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Wednesday (11 January). The UAE ambassador to the war-torn country was also wounded in the attack, which took place on Tuesday.
The UAE termed the incident as one of the worst attacks on its diplomats. The country announced to fly its flag at half-mast for three days in honour of the deceased.
The five victims were engaged in educational, humanitarian and development work when they were attacked, according to a Reuters report.
The blast, which reportedly killed two more people, targeted a guesthouse of provincial governor Homayun Azizia. UAE ambassador to Afghanistan, Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi, and 17 others were injured in the attack, Afghan officials were quoted as saying.
Initial reports suggested that Afghan Taliban was suspected to be behind the attack, however, the militant group denied planting the bomb in Kandahar. In a short statement, Taliban blamed "internal local rivalry" for the attack.
UAE Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter that "there is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help" others.
Afghanistan has been home to Islamic insurgencies and Kandahar – the second largest city in the country – had served as the base for the Taliban militant group for almost a decade, until US-led Nato forces toppled them.
Meanwhile, the militants reportedly claimed another attack that took place earlier on Tuesday (10 January) in Kabul that killed at least 38 people.
Emirati combat troops have been part of the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan and they are training members of the Afghan armed forces.