Afghan police fired aerial gunshots and water cannon Friday to stop dozens of protesters from marching on the presidential palace to demand the government’s resignation following a catastrophic truck bombing that killed 90 people and wounded hundreds.
Public anger has mounted after Wednesday’s brazen attack, the deadliest in the city since 2001, which was launched from an explosives-laden sewage tanker that tore a massive crater in the ground.
Demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans and “Death to the Taliban” gathered near the bombing site, prompting police to fire into the air and launch a water cannon as some tried to cross a security cordon.
The attack during the holy month of Ramadan highlighted the ability of militants to strike even in the capital’s most secure district, home to the presidential palace and foreign embassies that are enveloped in a maze of concrete blast walls.
Angry citizens have demanded answers from the government over the perceived intelligence failure leading to the assault, which underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan.
“Our brothers and sisters were martyred in the bloody attack on Wednesday, and our leaders are doing nothing to stop this carnage,” Rahila Jafari, a civil society activist, said during the protest.
“We want justice, we want the pepetrators of the attack to be hanged to death.”
Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the attack.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is expected to approve the execution of 11 Taliban and Haqqani prisoners, a government source told AFP, in apparent retaliation to the assault.
The Taliban — currently in the midst of their annual “spring offensive” — denied they were involved.
The Haqqani Network, long thought to have ties to neighbouring Pakistan’s shadowy military establishment, is led by Sirajuddin Haqqani — who is also the Taliban’s deputy leader.
It has carried out numerous attacks in Kabul, including the 2008 Indian embassy bombing that killed almost 60 people.
With more than 400 people wounded, the injured spilled over into hospital hallways as people were still searching for missing relatives.
Health officials warned some victims may never be identified as their bodies were torn into pieces or burned beyond recognition.