Five UAE diplomats martyred in Afghan blast
Photos courtesy: Abdullah Alshemeili, Emirati government retiree
Kandahar - All ministries, government departments and institutions across the country will fly the flag at half-mast for three days in honour of the martyrs.
The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has mourned, with deep sorrow and grief, the death of a number of UAE's sons who died Tuesday evening as a result of the terrorist bombing which took place at the headquarters of the Governor of Kandahar in Afghanistan.
The UAE martyrs have been named as Mohammed Ali Zainal Al Bastaki, Abdullah Mohammed Essa Obaid Al Kaabi, Ahmed Rashid Salim Ali Al Mazroui, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Ahmad Al Tunaiji, and Abdul Hamid Sultan Abdullah Ibrahim Al Hammadi, who had been on a mission to carry out humanitarian, educational and development projects in the Republic of Afghanistan.
Shaikh Khalifa prayed to Allah Almighty to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon them.
In a statement from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs earlier today, Shaikh Khalifa directed all ministries and government departments and institutions across the country to fly the flag at half-mast for three days in honour of the martyrs who gave their lives in defence of humanitarian causes.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, in a statement on Tuesday, said the UAE diplomats were in a visit to Kandahar on humanitarian mission within the programme of the UAE to support the brotherly Afghan people, lay the foundation stone for Dar Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
"Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi, the UAE Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, also injured in the terrorist attack, was signing an agreement with Kardan University to offer scholarships at the expense of the UAE."
The Ministry added that the UAE envoy's visit also included a plan to lay the foundation stone for the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for technical education in the capital city of Kabul, to be funded by Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai mourned, with deep sorrow and grief, the death of the UAE martyrs who were involved in humanitarian work in Afghanistan.
His Highness said, in a series of tweets on his official Twitter account: "Today, we mourn, with pride, the UAE martyrs of humanitarian work in the Republic of Afghanistan; five martyrs who ended their while serve the weak, children, and the needy.
The UAE people are proud of their children who are involved in humanitarian work. Today, they stand up tall for sacrificing martyrs for humanity which terrorists know nothing about.
There is not a single human, moral or religious justification for bombing or killing those whoever trying to help people. May Almighty Allah have mercy on our martyrs and accept them among the righteous."
Abdul Hamid Sultan Abdullah Ibrahim Al Hammadi
Abdullah Mohammed Essa Obaid Al Kaabi
Mohammed Ali Zainal Al Bastaki
(Left) Ahmed Abdul Rahman Ahmad Al Tunaiji; (Right) Ahmed Rashid Salim Ali Al Mazroui
Meanwhile, the Taliban denied responsibility and blamed, in a short statement, an 'internal local rivalry' for the attack which targeted a guesthouse of provincial Gov. Homayun Azizi, who was also wounded in the assault.
Eleven people were killed and 18 others were wounded, including the UAE Ambassador Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi, according to General Abdul Razeq, Kandahar's police chief.
Razeq said investigators believe someone hid the bomb inside a sofa at the guesthouse. He said an ongoing construction project at the guesthouse may have allowed militants to plant the bomb.
"Right now we cannot say anything that who is behind this attack," he told The Associated Press, while adding that several suspects had been arrested. The attack inside the heavily guarded compound represents a major breach of security, even in Afghanistan, a country long torn by war. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday condemned the attack and ordered a probe into the incident.
Multiple daily commercial flights link the countries, with Dubai serving as an important commercial hub for Afghan businessmen. Over the years, Taliban and Afghan officials also have met in Dubai to try to start peace talks.
Emirati diplomats have come under attack in the past, felled by assassins' bullets. Saif Ghubash, the UAE's first minister of state for foreign affairs, died after being shot in an October 1977 attack at Abu Dhabi International Airport, an attack that apparently targeted Syrian Foreign Minister Abdul-Halim Khaddam. Khaddam later blamed the attack on Iraq.
In 1984, the UAE's ambassador to France was assassinated by a gunman who shot him in the head outside his Paris home. A diplomatic club was named in honor of the slain envoy, Khalifa Al Mubarak, in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi in 2015.
Another Emirati diplomat was wounded in a shooting in Rome in 1984. Reports at the time linked those two attacks to the Arab Revolutionary Brigades, a Palestinian militant group.