Taliban suicide car bomber kills at least 24 in Afghan …

KABUL (Reuters) – A Taliban suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the western part of Kabul on Monday, killing at least 24 people and wounding more than 40, and the death toll could rise, an Interior Ministry spokesman in the Afghan capital said.

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 was yet another example of the unrelenting violence in Afghanistan.

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.

Salim Rasouli, director of the city’s hospitals, said at least 13 dead and 17 wounded had been taken to hospitals.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the Islamist group in a post on Twitter, saying 37 “intelligence workers” had been killed.

Smoke rises at Zawul Institute of Higher Education after an explosion near the institute in Kabul, Afghanistan July 24, 2017 in this still photograph uploaded on social media. Ahmad Shuja/Social Media/Handout via Reuters

The Taliban often exaggerate the scale of attacks against Afghan government and foreign targets.

Mujahid said the target of the attack had been two buses that had been under surveillance for two months.

Government security forces said a small bus owned by the Ministry of Mines had been destroyed in the blast.

Three civilian vehicles and 15 shops were destroyed or damaged in the blast, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

At least 1,662 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in the first half of the year. The latest suicide bombing came two weeks after the Islamic State group claimed an attack on a mosque in the capital that killed at least four people.

Kabul has accounted for at least 20 percent 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.

On Sunday, dozens of Afghan troops were under siege after Taliban fighters overran a district in northern Faryab province, a spokesman for the provincial police said.

There was also fighting in Baghlan, Badakhshan, and Kunduz provinces in Afghanistan’s north, and Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan in the south, according to officials.

The resurgence of violence also coincides with the U.S. administration weighing up its strategic options for Afghanistan, including the possibility of sending more troops to bolster the training and advisory mission already helping Afghan forces.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi and James Mackenzie; Editing by Paul Tait

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