Flags lowered to mourn UAE diplomats killed in Afghanistan
Flags in the UAE were set at half-mast to mark three days of mourning following the deaths of five Emirati diplomatic staff in a bomb attack in Afghanistan earlier this week.
A statement released by the Ministry of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan said that the mourning period would honour diplomats who gave their lives while promoting humanitarian causes.
The UAE nationals killed in Tuesday’s attack are said to have been in the Afghan city of Kandahar as part of a diplomatic mission in order to inaugurate a UAE-backed orphanage in the area, and offer scholarships to local students.
They included Mohammed Ali al-Bastaki, head of the UAE’s Khalifa foundation, an organisation with a history of charitable work in Afghanistan.
The deadly attack occurred when explosives hidden inside a sofa detonated at the governor of Kandahar’s compound killing a total of 13 people. The UAE’s ambassador to Afghanistan escaped the attack with injuries.
The attack came during a spate of deadly bombings on Tuesday that claimed a total of 56 lives, with twin blasts outside a parliament building killing 36, and a further seven people killed in another blast in the country’s volatile Helmand province.
The carnage underscores growing insecurity in Afghanistan, where US-backed forces are struggling to combat a resilient Taliban insurgency as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants.
The Kandahar blast itself marks the biggest loss of life inflicted on the Emirates’ diplomatic corps in a single attack in its history.
A number of UAE-based charities have since said despite the attack they plan to continue working in Afghanistan, in comments to The National, and other local media outlets.