Suicide blast kills four, wounds dozens in central Kabul

Suicide blast kills four, wounds dozens in central Kabul
A team of Afghan firefighters work to contain fires at the site of a suspected suicide bomber that struck a parking lot in central Kabul.

KABUL - At least four people were killed and dozens wounded when a suicide car bomber struck the parking lot of the justice ministry in Kabul Tuesday, the latest in a string of attacks in the Afghan capital.

A thick plume of smoke rose over the city after the powerful explosion during evening rush hour, which left the parking lot littered with twisted and charred wrecks of dozens of vehicles.

"The suicide attacker detonated his explosives-packed car inside the parking lot of the justice ministry," Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi told AFP.

"We can confirm that at least four people have been killed and a further 24 have been wounded." The area was cordoned off by security officials as yellow-helmeted firefighters doused the smouldering wreckage.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said four men and one woman had been killed, but it was impossible to say whether one of them was the suicide bomber.

"The body of one of the victims was torn into pieces and we cannot verify if he was the suicide attacker," Salangi told AFP.

The health ministry said at least 53 people had been brought to various Kabul hospitals.

"We are getting more every minute," ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi told AFP.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes in the midst of the Taliban's traditional spring-summer fighting season.

The insurgents have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets after launching their offensive late last month.

Tuesday's bombing was the third recent deadly attack to jolt the Afghan capital.

A British security contractor and two teenage girls were killed Sunday when a Taliban insurgent rammed an explosives-laden car into a European Union police vehicle in Kabul.

At least 18 people were wounded in the assault, which came three days after 14 people - mostly foreigners - were killed in a Taliban attack on a Kabul guest house that trapped dozens attending a concert.

Official efforts to bring the Taliban, who have waged a 13-year war to topple the US-backed government, to the negotiating table have so far borne little fruit.

The surge in attacks has taken a heavy toll on civilians, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties jumped 16 per cent over the same period last year, it said.

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