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Court workers among 11 killed in Kabul minibus suicide attack

Published 25/05/2016

The wreckage of the destroyed vehicle in which Mullah Akhtar Mansour was allegedly travelling when he was killed in a US drone strike (Abdul Malik/AP)
The wreckage of the destroyed vehicle in which Mullah Akhtar Mansour was allegedly travelling when he was killed in a US drone strike (Abdul Malik/AP)
Former Taliban leader Mullah Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike (AP)

Eleven people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a minibus carrying court employees in Kabul during the morning rush-hour, Afghan and UN officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomber, who was on foot, detonated his explosives vest as he walked past the vehicle in the western part of the capital, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

The attack came as the Taliban named a new leader following the death of their former leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in a US drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday.

The dead in Wednesday's bombing included both court workers and civilians and four other people were injured, Mr Danish said.

The minibus belonged to the judiciary department in neighbouring Maidan Wardak province and was taking the workers there when it came under attack, he added.

Within an hour of the blast, the Taliban, who often target government employees in their war against the state, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The claim came from Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, in an email sent to the media.

"This attack was carried out as revenge for the killing of six innocent prisoners in Kabul," the statement said. It was a reference to the hanging at a Kabul prison earlier this month of six Taliban members convicted of terrorism.

President Ashraf Ghani's office said at the time that he had "approved executions of six terrorists who perpetrated grave crimes against civilians and security personnel".

The executions were the first approved by Mr Ghani since he took office in 2014, promising to end the war.

After the hangings, a Taliban statement accused Kabul and the United States of torture, inhumane treatment and "killings under suspicious circumstances".

Wednesday's suicide attack in Kabul was the second of its kind on the judiciary in May - a judge was gunned down by unknown attackers in Kabul earlier in the month.

The UN mission in Afghanistan condemned the attack.

Since January 1, Unama has verified 14 separate attacks targeting judges, prosecutors and judicial staff in Afghanistan, resulting in nine civilian deaths and 19 civilians wounded. There have also been four incidents of abduction of judicial staff. The Taliban claimed responsibility for seven of these incidents, said Unama.

"Attacks against judicial authorities are cowardly and contrary to international humanitarian law," said Unama chief Nicholas Haysom, adding that the mission urges "authorities to do everything in their power to ensure adequate protection of judicial officials".

The last major attack in Kabul was on April 19, when a massive bomb killed 64 people and wounded hundreds. The Taliban also claimed that bombing.

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