At least 24 killed, 42 wounded in Kabul car bomb attack; Taliban claims responsibility

The car bomb hit a bus carrying government employees during rush hour, a ministry spokesperson said.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2017 17:21 IST
Agence-France Presse, Kabul
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Men look at the remains of their properties at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 24, 2017. The Taliban have killed at least 24 people and wounded dozens more in a suicide bomb attack against a bus carrying government employees in the Afghan capital, Kabul. (Massoud Hossaini / AP)

At least 24 people have been killed and 42 wounded after a car bomb struck a bus carrying government employees in western Kabul Monday, an official told AFP, the latest attack to strike the Afghan capital.

“The car bomb hit a bus carrying employees of the ministry of mines during rush hour,” interior ministry spokesperson Najib Danish told AFP.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the horrific attack. The statement, sent by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, sid the target of the bombing was the intelligence services and their employees. He claimed the bus was filled with employees of the intelligence services but Kabul police chief spokesperson Basir Mujahed said the employees worked for the mines and petroleum ministry.

The neighbourhood in which Monday’s bomb detonated is home to many Shia Hazaras, a persecuted ethnic minority who have been targeted many times in the past.

It is also near prominent politician and former warlord Mohammad Mohaqeq’s home. Omid Maisom Mohaqiq, a spokesman for the politician, said the bomb had detonated near the first checkpoint approaching the house, “killing and wounding some civilians”.

Kabul is regularly rocked by suicide bombs and attacks. A recent UN report showed they accounted for nearly one-fifth of all civilian Afghan casualties in the first half of 2017.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has been documenting civilian casualties since 2009, said in its recent report that 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured in the first six months of the year.

Many of those deaths happened in a devastating single attack in Kabul in late May when a truck bomb exploded, also during the morning rush hour, killing more than 150 people and injuring hundreds.

UNAMA put the civilian death toll at 92, saying it was the deadliest incident to hit the country since 2001.

The bloody toll for the first six months of 2017 has unsettled the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who has come under increasing pressure since the May attack in Kabul.

Protests and deadly street clashes hit the Afghan capital in the wake of the May attack as people incensed by security failures called for his government’s resignation.

The UNAMA report also said nearly half of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have seen an increase in civilian deaths in the first six months of the year, mainly due to the rise in attacks by anti-government forces across the country.

NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan ended three years ago, handing sole responsibility to the country’s security forces, who has also suffered spiralling casualties ever since as they try to beat back the resurgent Taliban and contain the growing threat from the Islamic State group.

First Published: Jul 24, 2017 08:49 IST