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Islamic militancy

Twin suicide bomb attacks by the Taliban kill 50 in Afghanistan and Pakistan, wounding nearly 100

Kabul police chief spokesman Basir Mujahed said the employees were from the mines and petroleum ministry

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 July, 2017, 1:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 1:39am

Suicide bombers struck in the Afghan capital of Kabul and in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore, killing at least 50 people and wounding almost 100 others, officials in both countries said.

A suicide bomber hit near a police team in Lahore on Monday killing at least 26 and wounding 54, many of them police officers, an official said.

Senior police officer Haider Ashraf said a suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck near police guarding a demolition site at Kot Lakhpat’s vegetable market on the outskirts of Lahore.

Ashraf said it was believed earlier that the bomb was in a car, but it was later discovered that the vehicle belonged to a police officer, among the eight officers killed.

He said many of 54 wounded are policemen and several bystanders were wounded by the impact of the powerful blast.

At least 24 people were killed and 42 wounded after a car bomb struck a bus carrying government employees in western Kabul on Monday, an official said, the latest attack to strike the Afghan capital.

“The car bomb hit a bus carrying employees of the ministry of mines during rush hour,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danishsaid.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the horrific attack in the Afghan capital.

A statement released to the media by the Taliban said they carried out the suicide car bombing.

Sent by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, it said the target of the bombing was the intelligence services and their employees.

He claimed the bus was filled with employees of the intelligence services, however, Kabul police chief spokesman Basir Mujahed also stated that the employees worked for the mines and petroleum ministry.

Mujahid said Taliban insurgents had spent the last two months shadowing the intelligence services before carrying out the attack.

Taliban-linked group kill 40 in double Pakistan bomb blasts

The attack came as the Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country in recent days, with several new districts falling to the militants over the weekend.

The neighbourhood in which Monday’s bomb detonated is home to many Shiite Hazaras, a persecuted ethnic minority who have been targeted many times in the past.

It is also near prominent politician and former warlord Mohammad Mohaqeq’s home. Omid Maisom Mohaqiq, a spokesman for the politician, said the bomb had detonated near the first checkpoint approaching the house, “killing and wounding some civilians”.

In Pakistan, the outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming they used a suicide bomber on a motorcycle.

Rana Sanaullah, the home minister of eastern Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital, said anti-state elements who want to see instability in the country were behind the attack.

“No matter what name they use, these terrorists are one but they cannot demoralize the Pakistani nation,” said Sanaullah.

Malik Mohammad Ahmed, a spokesman for the Punjab government, said the blast occurred near the secretariat of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but that he was not in the office oat the time.

Sharif in a statement condemned the attack and called for the best possible medical service for the survivors.

Afghan defence minister, army chief resign after Taliban attack leaves more than 100 soldiers dead

Kabul is regularly rocked by suicide bombs and attacks. A recent UN report showed they accounted for nearly one-fifth of all civilian Afghan casualties in the first half of 2017.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has been documenting civilian casualties since 2009, said in its recent report that 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured in the first six months of the year.

Many of those deaths happened in a devastating single attack in Kabul in late May when a truck bomb exploded, also during the morning rush hour, killing more than 150 people and injuring hundreds.

UNAMA put the civilian death toll at 92, saying it was the deadliest incident to hit the country since 2001.

The bloody toll for the first six months of 2017 has unsettled the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who has come under increasing pressure since the May attack in Kabul.

Protests and deadly street clashes hit the Afghan capital in the wake of the May attack as people incensed by security failures called for his government’s resignation.

The UNAMA report also said that nearly half of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have seen an increase in civilian deaths in the first six months of the year, mainly due to the rise in attacks by anti-government forces across the country.

NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan ended three years ago, handing sole responsibility to the country’s security forces, who has also suffered spiralling casualties ever since as they try to beat back the resurgent Taliban and contain the growing threat from the Islamic State group.