Auckland's Muslim community is mourning a "passionate and generous" community leader, who was killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Hashem Slaimankhel was caught up in a Taliban attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul, which killed at least 95 people and injured 158.

Slaimankhel, who lived in Epsom, was an elder of the New Zealand Muslim Association's Shura Committee and chairman of the Umma Trust, which provides social and community services for refugee and migrant communities. He was previously chairman of the Afghan Association of New Zealand.

Ponsonby mosque secretary Firoz Patel said he was widely respected, and the community would mourn his loss.


There were plans to hold a memorial at the mosque.

Patel said about 250 to 300 members of the community had gathered at the family's house and Slaimankhel's family was due to fly to Afghanistan on Sunday night.

Security forces inspect the site of a deadly suicide attack in the centre of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo / AP
Security forces inspect the site of a deadly suicide attack in the centre of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo / AP

Slaimankhel travelled to Afghanistan in November with his daughter-in-law, who is understood to be safe. He had been on holiday helping with his grandchildren and visiting family and had been due to arrive back in New Zealand this week.

Jennifer Janif, who had known him for more than 25 years and volunteered with him on the Umma Trust, said the news of his death had devastated the community who had been eagerly awaiting his return.

"It leaves a huge void in our lives and the work we do, for his family of course, for his community members and for the diverse communities we work with.

"We visited families and we said, 'look Hashem's not here and we've got to wait for him because he's the one that understands the language and speaks the culture'.

"It's just hard to believe..."

Janif said he was known for his humility, generosity, caring nature and selflessness in caring for others. Slaimankhel was a passionate advocate and campaigner for social justice and the rights of women and children.


"His work has touched the lives of many many families. The service that he provided, the youth, the elderly, the mothers, single mothers."

Umma Trust youth leader Naima Ali said Slaimankhel was extremely supportive and still helped her family with their ongoing resettlement from Somalia even though they had been in New Zealand for 18 years.

He would help anyone regardless of their culture or religion, she said.

"There was no inferiority or superiority ... he was always respectful of us youth. Towards anybody, whether they were elders or young people, there was always a mutual respect."

Slaimankhel arrived in New Zealand in 1998 after qualifying as a doctor in Pakistan, according to a Ministry of Social Development publication.

He worked for the Auckland DHB as a refugee health worker and in 2010 his role helping the community consider family violence issues was recognised by the New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development and the Auckland Council.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was aware of the death of a New Zealand citizen in a terrorist incident in Afghanistan and was in contact with the person's family.

The ministry would not comment further because of privacy reasons.

US President Donald Trump has condemned the Taliban suicide bombing.

"I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured," Trump said in a statement.

"This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners," he said.

"The Taliban's cruelty will not prevail."

Trump called on countries to "take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them".

The bomb was hidden in an ambulance when it blew up at a police checkpoint in a busy part of the city that was crowded with pedestrians.

Dr Hashem Slaimankhel. Photo / Supplied
Dr Hashem Slaimankhel. Photo / Supplied

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, a week after they claimed an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in which more than 20 people were killed.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Taliban's use of an ambulance as a weapon to target civilians in a bombing in Afghanistan's capital "represents inhumane disregard for the people of Afghanistan".

Tillerson said the ambulance attack was "a violation of the most basic international norms".

Saturday's powerful explosion came a week after Taliban militants killed 22 people at an international hotel in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.