Taliban blast in Kabul kills four Afghan soldiers: officials

Taliban blast in Kabul kills four Afghan soldiers: officials
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers haul away a damaged military bus following an explosion in western Kabul.

KABUL - At least four Afghan soldiers were killed and around a dozen people including six civilians wounded when a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban exploded in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, officials said.

The blast, caused by a remote-controlled bomb, targeted an Afghan army bus in the western part of Kabul, the Ministry of Defence said.

"In a remote-controlled bomb attack against an army bus at 6:45 am (0215 GMT) in Aqa Ali Shams in Kabul, four army personnel were killed and 12 wounded, including six civilians," the ministry said in a statement.

Broken glass and debris were strewn around the site of the attack as security officials cordoned off the area.

Jandad, a government employee who witnessed the blast and who goes by one name, told AFP: "We were waiting for our shuttle bus to go to the office when we heard a big bang.

"Later I saw a bus from which they were removing several Afghan army soldiers, most blood-soaked." He added that the bomb appeared to have been placed in the divider in the middle of the road that separates traffic.

The Taliban, who have this year stepped up their attacks against the Afghan security forces, claimed responsibility via their official Twitter account.

It is the latest in a surge of attacks on local security forces as foreign combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Taliban militants killed six Afghan police last Tuesday in the Logar province south of Kabul, a day after insurgents ambushed a convoy in the north and killed 22 policemen.

The inauguration of new President Ashraf Ghani last month was also marred by a spate of suicide attacks on security forces killing more than a dozen people.

Afghan casualties have rocketed over the past two years, during which time NATO has handed over most combat duties to the nation's police and army.

The US military estimated this month that 7,000-9,000 Afghan police or troops had been killed or wounded so far this year.

Ghani, who was sworn into office last month following a lengthy election process, has signed a long-delayed agreement allowing about 13,000 foreign troops to stay on into 2015.

But the follow-up mission, which will take over on January 1 - 9,800 US troops and about 3,000 soldiers from Germany, Italy and other NATO members - will focus mainly on training local forces and counter-terrorism operations.

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