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Dozens killed by Taliban car bomb in Kabul Shia neighbourhood

The attack took place in a largely Shia Hazara neighbourhood. [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 July, 2017

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More than 24 people were killed and 42 wounded on Monday after a car bomb struck a bus carrying Afghan government employees through a Shia neighbourhood in Kabul.

More than 24 people were killed and 42 wounded on Monday after a car bomb struck a bus carrying Afghan government employees through a Shia neighbourhood in Kabul.

The attack, which was claimed by the Taliban, took place during rush hour as employees from the ministry of mines were passing from western Kabul to downtown, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP. 

The attack took place in a busy area of the capital that is home to many Shia Hazaras, a persecuted ethnic minority, leading to fears of sectarian violence in Kabul.

Others have suggested that politician and former warlord Mohammad Mohaqeq could have been the target, with the ethnicity of the government employees not immediately clear.

"It was a huge explosion, my house nearly collapsed, it broke all our windows and doors," a neighbourhood resident who gave his name as Mostafa told AFP.

He rushed to the street which, he said, was "filled with human flesh and blood".

An AFP photographer saw multiple bodies and wounded people in the street, with the bus's charred remains left smoking in the middle of the road as security forces cordoned off the area.

"It was horrible," said shopkeeper Momin. "For at least ten minutes we didn't know what had happened. It almost destroyed my shop.

"It is a crowded area -- many of my friends and other shopkeepers are either killed or wounded."

Rising violence in Afghanistan

The attack came as Kabul's Hazara community was planning to hold a demonstration in the neighbourhood to mark the one-year anniversary of twin bombings which killed 84 people.

The demonstration will now be postponed over security fears.

The 2016 attacks in Kabul were claimed by the Islamic State group in their first significant assault in the heart of the Afghan capital.

A recent UN report showed that attacks in Kabul accounted for nearly one-fifth of all civilian Afghan casualties in the first half of 2017. 

In May, more than 150 people were killed in a truck bomb during Kabul’s morning rush hour, the deadliest single incident in the country since 2001.

The death toll in the first six months of 2017 has put increasing pressure on President Ashraf Ghani, who condemned Monday's attack.

Over the weekend, at least 35 people were killed when the Taliban attacked a hospital in the central Ghor province.

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