Taliban claims responsibility after 24 killed in Kabul suicide blast

Taliban claims responsibility after 24 killed in Kabul suicide blast
Men look at the remains of their properties at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul. Picture: AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini

A suicide bomber rammed his car packed with explosives into a bus carrying government employees in the Afghan capital early on Monday, killing 24 people and injuring 42 others, Kabul's police chief spokesman said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which took place in a neighbourhood of western Kabul where several prominent politicians live and at rush hour, as residents were heading to work and students were on their way to a nearby private high school, said the spokesman, Basir Mujahed.

"The bomber attacked at one of the busiest times of the day," he said. "There were traffic jams with people going to work and to the university and schools. Many of the shops had just opened."

The bus was completely destroyed, along with three other cars and several shops in the area, he said, adding that children were among the wounded.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry called the bombing "a criminal act against humanity".

The police spokesman said the minibus was carrying employees of the mines and petroleum ministry.

The Taliban, in a statement to the media, said they were behind the bombing and that the attack was carried out by an insurgent identified only as Ahmad.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said the target of the bombing was the intelligence services and their employees. He claimed the bus was filled with employees of the intelligence services and that Taliban insurgents had spent the last two months shadowing the intelligence services employees before carrying out the attack.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombing.

"Once again, these terrorist are attacking civilians and targeting government staff," he said in a statement.

Monday's attack was the second against employees of the mines and petroleum ministry. Last year, a bus carrying the ministry's employees was also targeted in an attack that killed several people.

The western Kabul neighbourhood where the attack happened is home to many prominent political leaders, such as Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqiq.

Several attacks have occurred in the area, including a suicide attack last month that killed prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Ramazan Hussainzada, who was also a senior leader of the ethnic Hazara community.

Eyewitnesses to Monday's attack said shattered glass from nearby buildings was scattered all over the street.

"The sound was very strong, the ground shook," said Mohammed Nader, who owns a convenience store in the neighbourhood.

AP

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