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Kabul suicide bomb kills 90 people

June 1, 2017 GMT

The massive suicide truck bomb blast that killed 90 people and wounded more than 400 in Kabul’s fortified diplomatic quarter was likely intended as a message to the Trump administration as it considers ramping up the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, terrorism experts say.

The bomber drove a septic pumping truck loaded with explosives into Kabul’s heavily guarded diplomatic quarter during the morning rush hour, detonating the bomb near several embassies.

Most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children. But the dead also included Afghan security guards, including nine at the U.S. Embassy, while 11 American contractors were wounded.

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“I have been to many attacks, taken wounded people out of many blast sites, but I can say I have never seen such a horrible attack as I saw this morning,” ambulance driver Alef Ahmadzai said. “Everywhere was on fire and so many people were in critical condition.”

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. The Taliban denied any involvement in an email to news outlets.

Northeastern University professor Max Abrahms, who researches the strategic effectiveness of terrorism, suggested the attack was designed to encourage a U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

“This appears to be a well-timed attack because the White House is weighing whether to send in more forces to Afghanistan. Attacks like this reduce the logic of the occupation ... Attacks like this will force the Trump administration to think twice.”

Abrahms said of the target, “It makes perfect sense for the Taliban or other groups that want to end the occupation to strike at symbols of that occupation. They want to send a message that the occupation will be costly.”

Malcolm Nance, a career U.S. intelligence officer and author of “Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe,” said the attack had “all the hallmarks of ISIS, including the use of a massive truck bomb. Trying to get it into the diplomatic zone is an example of what we call a demonstration attack; it’s ISIS demonstrating its ability to infiltrate and cause carnage where others haven’t, demonstrating that ‘we can get you no matter where you are.’”

With Trump as commander in chief, Nance said, “we stand to do another massive bloodletting escalation in Afghanistan ... The more U.S. troops in there, the more opportunity ISIS has to bring in more recruits … (Osama) Bin Laden wanted us to do this so that he could win from the grave.”

Afghanistan’s war, the longest ever involving U.S. troops, has shown no sign of letting up, and the introduction into the battle of an Islamic State affiliate has made the country only more volatile.

There are currently 8,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan with a U.S. promise of more to come.

Herald wire services contributed to this report.