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Afghan security criticised after suicide bomber kills 24 in Kabul

A Taliban suicide bomber has killed 24 people in an area of Kabul where prominent politicians live, causing residents and analysts to question the government's ability to protect Afghanistan's capital.

Another 42 people were injured in the attack during morning rush hour as government employees and students made their way to work and school.

Plumes of black smoke were seen billowing skyward outside the entrance to a private high school. Students in nearby dormitories were injured by flying glass.

Several cars were destroyed and many people inside small shops that lined the busy street were killed.

The suicide bomber had rammed his explosive-laden car into a minibus carrying employees of the mines and petroleum ministry, Kabul police chief spokesman Basir Mujahed said.

In a statement to the media the Taliban took responsibility for the bombing, saying the target was the employees of the intelligence services.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said insurgents had spent the last two months in Kabul shadowing intelligence services employees before striking.

Analysts said widespread corruption, rife within the government and the security forces, makes keeping Kabul safe a difficult job.

Kabul-based security analyst Waheed Muzhda said: "You can bring any amount of explosives into the city if you have money. Corruption is the big problem.

"Any group, even a small group, can bring weapons, ammunition to anywhere in the city."

Last year, Afghanistan was ranked as one of the world's most corrupt countries according to Transparency International.

The western Kabul area where the attack occurred is home to many prominent political leaders, such as Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqiq.

It has also been the site of several previous attacks, including the suicide attack last month that killed prominent Shia Muslim cleric Ramazan Hussainzada, who was also a senior leader of the ethnic Hazara community.

Amir Helam, whose friend died in the explosion, told Afghanistan's Tolo TV that "every day people are dying".

Addressing the government, Mr Helam said: "If you cannot bring peace then please leave and bring other people."

Kabul has been battered by explosions claimed by the Taliban and by the Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan.

On May 31, the Afghan capital saw its worst suicide attack since the Taliban's collapse in 2001 - an attack that killed 150 people and wounded scores more.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombing, saying: "Once again, these terrorist are attacking civilians and targeting government staff."

Pakistan also condemned the bombing.



From Belfast Telegraph