Suicide attack and so far unclaimed motorcycle bomb devastate country as insurgency persists despite Taliban leader's recent death
Two bomb explosions rocked Afghanistan Monday morning. In the first, a suicide bomber killed at least 14 and wounded eight in an attack on a minibus carrying Nepalese security contractors in the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials said.
A Reuters witness saw several apparently dead victims and at least two wounded being carried out of the yellow bus, while police and emergency service vehicles surrounded the scene in the Banae district of the city.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter that 14 people had been killed and eight wounded. Police were working to identify the victims, he said.
The casualties appeared to include both Afghans and Nepalese security contractors, Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said.
He said the suicide bomber had waited near the compound housing the security contractors and struck as the vehicle moved through early morning traffic. As well as the bus passengers, several people in an adjacent market were also wounded.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack on the minibus that was carrying Nepalese security guards in Kabul. He said India will provide all assistance to Nepal government in this hour of tragedy.
"We strongly condemn the horrible tragedy in Kabul. Our deep condolences to the people and governments of Afghanistan and Nepal on the loss of innocent lives," he said in a tweet.
"We are taking steps to provide all relevant assistance to the Nepal government in this hour of tragedy," PM Modi said.
Fourteen Nepalese security guards were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber targetted their minibus in the Afghan capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which occurred during Ramadan, Islam's holy month.
It underlined how serious the security threat facing Afghanistan remains since the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike last month.
Also Monday morning, at least eight people were killed and 18 injured in a seprate attack Monday morning, when a motorcycle bomb exploded in a crowded market in Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan province, local authorities said.
"Our initial information is eight people were martyred, and 18 others were wounded, all the victims are civilians," the Badakhshan provincial governor's spokesman Naweed Froutan told AFP, adding that the death toll is set to rise.
The district governor of Keshim, where the attack took place, gave a higher toll of at least 10 killed and 30 wounded.
"It was a motorcycle bomb explosion inside a main market in Keshim district of Badakhshan province," Abdul Salam Paiman told AFP, adding that some of the wounded were in critical condition and all had been taken to hospital.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast in the remote, mountainous province.
Reuters reports that the attack was the latest in a recent surge of violence that highlights the challenges faced by the Afghan government in Kabul and its Western backers as Washington slowly draws down its remaining troops despite a persistent insurgency.
AFP notes that the attacks come just days after Washington expanded the US military's authority to carry out airstrikes on the insurgents.
(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)