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Suicide bombing kills at least 35 in Kabul

A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the western part of Kabul on Monday, killing at least 35 people, more than doubling earlier casualty estimates, an Interior Ministry spokesman in the Afghan capital said.

The attack took place in the western part of the Afghan capital

Afghan shopkeepers collect reamains in front of a shop after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the western part of Kabul on Monday, killing at least 35 people, more than doubling earlier casualty estimates, 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 Shia Hazara community live, but they said the target of the attack was so far unclear.

Kabul police chief spokesperson Basir Mujahed says the bomber targeted a bus carrying employees of the mines and petroleum ministry.

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

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

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

Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

Acting Interior Ministry spokesperson Najib Danish said at least 24 people had been killed and 40 wounded but the casualty toll could rise further.

Another senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the incident with 
the media, 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.

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

Smoke is seen rising from the site of a deadly car bomb attack in the western part of Kabul, Afghanistan, early Monday (Reuters TV/Reuters)

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

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.

"Once again, these terrorist are attacking civilians and targeting government staff," President Ashraf Ghani 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.

It 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. 

With files from The Associated Press

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