KABUL: A suicide bomber believed to be as young as 12 struck Kabul’s heavily fortified diplomatic quarter on Tuesday and killed at least five people, showing that militants can still hit the heart of the city despite tighter security.
It was the first attack targeting the Afghan capital’s “Green Zone” since a massive truck bomb ripped through the area on May 31, killing or wounding hundreds, and prompting authorities to strengthen protection.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, which follows a spate of suicide assaults by Taliban and IS insurgents on security installations and mosques in recent weeks.
A Western security source told AFP the attacker appeared to have been targeting workers leaving an Afghan defence ministry facility inside the heavily protected zone.
Health ministry spokesman Ismail Kawoosi told AFP that at least five people had been killed and 20 wounded, including women.
“The suicide attack was carried out by an underage bomber, a boy we think 13 or 15 years old, killing at least four and wounding over a dozen more civilians,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.
A police spokesman said the attacker may have been as young as 12.
Defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the bomber “made it through the first checkpoint but was stopped at the second checkpoint and detonated”.
“We don’t know the target but it happened a few metres from the defence ministry’s foreign relations office. There were no casualties to our personnel,” Waziri said.
The attack is a setback for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who had promised to beef up the security of the diplomatic zone after the truck bomb detonated outside the German embassy five months ago.
Ghani immediately ordered an investigation into how Tuesday’s attacker had been able to enter the supposedly secure area.
A Western security source told AFP he had repeatedly warned Afghan authorities about lax security at the checkpoint targeted by the bomber.