KABUL: The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Afghanistan has been wounded in the southeastern city of Kandahar in a bomb blast that also killed at least seven people. The attack on Tuesday, which took place during a meeting between senior officials and diplomats from the UAE embassy, wounded 17 others, including the provincial governor. The Taliban denied any involvement and said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera that the attack was a result of “internal local rivalry”. In a statement, the UAE foreign ministry said it was “following the heinous terrorist attack on the guesthouse of the Kandahar governor which resulted in the injury of his excellency Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi, UAE ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and a number of Emirati diplomats”. The UAE envoy and Kandahar’s governor were wounded by flames from the explosion, but many others were burned beyond recognition, provincial police chief Abdul Raziq told. The diplomats, who were in Kandahar on a humanitarian mission, were expected to open a number of UAE-backed projects as part of an aid programme to Afghanistan.
Earlier on Tuesday, two suicide blasts near Afghanistan’s parliament in Kabul killed at least 30 people and wounded 80, in an attack claimed by the Taliban. In a separate incident also on Tuesday, a suicide bomber on foot struck in the southern Helmand province, killing at least seven people, according to officials. The target of the attack was a guesthouse used by a provincial intelligence official in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the Helmand attack. Afghanistan last week welcomed the Pentagon’s decision to deploy some 300 US Marines to Helmand, where American forces engaged in heated combat until they pulled out in 2014. The Marines will head to the poppy-growing province this spring to assist a NATO-led mission to train Afghan forces, in the latest sign that foreign forces are increasingly being drawn back into the worsening conflict. NATO officially ended its combat mission in December 2014, but US forces were granted greater powers in June to strike at the insurgents as President Barack Obama vowed a more aggressive campaign.