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Huge explosion shakes Afghan capital near busy shopping district

A suicide car bomb targeted a convoy carrying international forces in a busy shopping district in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon, officials said, the second significant attack in the Afghan capital in as many weeks.

One civilian was killed and 22 were wounded in the attack, according to a statement from Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

The blast took place on Airport Road near the Supreme Court building, an area crowded with shopping plazas, butchers, tailors and vegetable sellers. A school is also nearby, raising fear that children were among the dead or wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement.

Last week, Taliban militants detonated a suicide bomb outside parliament and attempted to storm the building before being gunned down by security forces. At least 40 people were wounded.

Earlier Tuesday, a separate explosion in southern Afghanistan killed at least two people and left dozens more injured, officials said. A truck exploded while traveling through Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, en route to what officials said was its presumed target, the provincial police headquarters.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the governor of Helmand, said in an interview that 51 people, mostly civilians, were wounded in the blast.

Civilian casualties in the Afghanistan conflict continue to rise. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan documented 974 civilian deaths and 1,963 injuries in the first four months of this year. That marked a 16% increase over the same period in 2014, which saw the highest annual figures for civilian casualties since the organization began keeping detailed records in 2009.

The attacks on Tuesday came a day after 11 Afghan army soldiers were killed in the western province of Herat when their convoy came under attack from gunmen in Karokh district. Government officials blame Taliban insurgents, although no group claimed responsibility.

Latifi is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

5:54 a.m.: This article has been updated with more information about civilian casualty statistics.

3:55 a.m.: This article has been updated to add a statement from an Interior Ministry spokesman.

3:41 a.m.: This article has been updated with the Taliban's claim of responsibility for Kabul blast.

3:18 a.m.: This articles has been updated with news of the latest explosion.

This article was originally published at 1:15 a.m.

 

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