Kabul residents express horror at airport attack that killed dozens

Islamabad, Aug. 27, (dpa/GNA) - Residents of Kabul expressed horror at the devastating attack on the city's airport that left dozens dead on Thursday, including US service members and Afghans hoping to flee the country.

"I am frustrated and disappointed," Hussain, who lives in the western part of the city and whose surname is being withheld for safety reasons, told dpa on Friday.

"Everyone here in Kabul is frustrated and disappointed," he said.

Wahid, who lives not far from the airport, said he was suffering "the worst time of my life."

He said that in his discussions some placed the blame for the carnage on the throngs of people who had been converging at the site in a desperate attempt to escape their Taliban-controlled country.

Others blamed the West for allowing them to flee and the chaotic, unsafe situation at the airport. Still others blamed the Taliban for not doing enough to secure the airport, Wahid said.

According to the British defence minister, 60 to 80 Afghan civilians were killed in the two powerful bomb blasts that struck a perimeter gate and a nearby hotel. The US said 13 of its service members were killed. Dozens of other people were injured.

The Taliban, on the other hand, initially spoke of only 13 to 20 civilians killed.

Television images from the attack site showed bloodstained stones and pieces of clothing strewn on the ground.

The square outside the gate, where the crowds of people who had been trying to get on evacuation flights were standing shoulder-to-shoulder when the bombs struck on Thursday afternoon, was deserted.

The situation on the ground is rapidly deteriorating with medical supplies already running short. Planned supply flights by the World Health Organisation (WHO) had to be cancelled due to the security situation, according to WHO emergency coordinator for the region Rick Brennan.

"There are only enough supplies for a few more days," Brennan said, describing as a ray of light the fact that 97 per cent of the approximately 2,200 WHO-funded health clinics in Afghanistan continued to function.

The UN High Commission for Human Rights condemned the attack on Friday, saying that it had clearly been designed to kill and injure as many people as possible.

"We hope that those responsible will be tracked down and brought to justice as soon as possible," commission spokesperson Rupert Colville said.

The UN children's fund UNICEF also condemned the attack on Friday, calling for better child protection in Afghanistan.

"UNICEF is deeply concerned about the safety of children and the increase in serious attacks against children in recent weeks," the organization's Afghanistan representative, Herve Ludovic, said on Friday.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 550 children have been killed and more than 1,400 injured in Afghanistan, according to UN figures.