Blast targets bus in downtown Kabul during rush hour

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KABUL: A roadside bomb struck a bus in downtown Kabul during rush hour on Monday, officials said, sending smoke rising in the sky just days after a deadly insurgent assault on Afghanistan’s biggest military hospital.

At least one woman was killed and 19 others wounded in the powerful blast, which left the bus badly mangled and the area littered with smouldering debris and twisted metal.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the assault, but it comes as the Taliban step up attacks even before the official start of the annual spring offensive.

“There has been an explosion against a minibus in Kabul,” Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said, adding that more casualties were feared.

Security officials cordoned off the area as firefighters and ambulances rushed to the scene. It was not immediately clear who was on board the bus.

“The explosion was caused by a roadside bomb,” interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter. “Three people have been detained in connection with the explosion.” The bombing comes after gunmen disguised as doctors stormed Sardar Daud Khan hospital in Kabul last Wednesday, with insiders including two interns among the attackers, multiple surviving staff and security sources said.

The defence ministry insists only around 30 people were killed by five attackers. But security sources and the survivors, some of whom counted dead bodies, said the death toll exceeded 100.

The carnage inside the heavily guarded hospital points at a spectacular intelligence failure and spotlights how insurgents have managed to infiltrate top government and military institutions in Afghanistan.

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