An explosion near the entrance to the Russian embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, killed at least six people on Monday, including two employees of the diplomatic mission.
An “unidentified terrorist activated an explosive device” when a Russian diplomat came out to announce the names of Afghan visa applicants queuing, Russian state media reported, citing the Foreign Ministry and witnesses.
The fate of the diplomat was not immediately known.
Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said a suicide bomber carried out the attack but was killed by Taliban security guards before he could reach his target.
“The suicide bomber intended to blow himself up in the crowd but security forces intercepted and targeted him before he could reach his objective, which caused the explosion,” Zadran said on Twitter.
Zadran confirmed the death of four Afghan civilians, adding that the incident left at least 10 injured.
The Moscow Embassy in Kabul “is in close contact with the Afghan special services, which have launched an investigation into the incident”, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his counterpart from Tajikistan, Sirojiddin Muhriddin, paid tribute to the victims of the Kabul attack before starting bilateral talks in Moscow.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, the first targeting a diplomatic mission in the Afghan capital since the Taliban took power a year ago.
Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said their security forces had launched a “full” investigation and would step up security at the embassy.
“The Islamic Emirate has close relations with the Russian Federation and will not allow enemies to sabotage relations between the two countries with such negative actions,” Balkhi said on Twitter.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the deadly attack and expressed its condolences to the families of those killed.
“In light of recent events, UNAMA stresses the need for the de facto authorities to take action to ensure the safety and security of individuals as well as diplomatic missions,” UNAMA said on Twitter.
The return to power of the Islamist Taliban has brought security to much of Afghanistan, but bomb blasts targeting and killing pro-Taliban clerics and the country’s minority Shia Muslim community have increased.
The Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, known as the Islamist province of Khorasan or ISIS-K, has claimed credit for plotting most of the attacks since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, when the United States and NATO allies have withdrawn their troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of war with former insurgents.
China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan are among neighboring and regional countries that have maintained their embassies in Kabul since the Taliban takeover. The United States and other Western countries have moved their diplomatic missions to Doha, the capital of Qatar.