Kabul – At least 35 people have been killed and more than 40 wounded as a Taliban suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the western part of Kabul on Monday, killing up to 35 people and wounding more than 40, according to government officials.
It was one of the worst attacks in the Afghan capital in recent weeks. At least 1,662 civilians had already been killed in Afghanistan in the first half of the year.
Police cordoned off the area, located near the house of the deputy government Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq in a part of the city where many of the mainly Shi’ite Hazara community live.
Monday’s suicide bombing, which targeted government personnel, continued the unrelenting violence that has killed more than 1,700 civilians in Afghanistan so far this year.
The Taliban, which is battling the Western-backed government and a NATO-led coalition for control of Afghanistan, has launched a wave of attacks around the country in recent days, sparking fighting in more than half a dozen provinces.
“I was in my shop when suddenly I heard a terrible sound and as a result all of my shop windows shattered,” said Ali Ahmed, a resident in the area of Monday’s blast.
Acting Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said at least 24 people had been killed and 40 wounded but the casualty toll could rise further.
Another senior official said the toll stood at 35 killed. That was in line with a claim on Twitter by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who said 37 “intelligence workers” had been killed.
Mujahid said in a tweet claiming responsibility for the attack the target had been two buses that had been under surveillance for two months.
An Afghan man removes fragments of glass from a building after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan July 24, 2017.
Government security forces said a small bus owned by the Ministry of Mines had been destroyed in the blast but the National Directorate for Security, the main intelligence agency, said none of its personnel had been hit.
Three civilian vehicles and 15 shops were destroyed or damaged in the blast, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Kabul has accounted for at least 20 per cent of all civilian casualties this year, including at least 150 people killed in a massive truck bomb attack at the end of May, according to United Nations figures.
The Islamic State group claimed an attack on a mosque in the capital two weeks ago that killed at least four people.