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A day of devastation in Afghanistan's capital

A day of devastation in Afghanistan's capital
Residents view the damage after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 7. (Ali M Latifi / Los Angeles Times)

Only hours after personally transporting dozens of injured to and from nearby hospitals, Salahuddin was back at his Shah Shahid neighborhood PVC store to assess the damage from an explosion Friday that killed at least 15 people and left dozens injured.

"There was smoke and broken glass everywhere. Everyone was panicking, everywhere you turned there was someone else who was hurt," said Salahuddin, 45, whose store was damaged, as he described the scene in east Kabul.

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The chaos was part of a violent day in Afghanistan's capital that left at least 35 people dead and many injured in attacks that included a suicide bombing outside a police academy.

The attack in the Shah Shahid neighborhood early Friday that killed at least 15 and injured more than 240 involved a truck bombing that targeted an installation of the Afghan National Security Forces, authorities said.

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Among the injured, most of whom suffered minor wounds and cuts from broken glass, were 47 women and 33 children, officials said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which jolted neighborhoods miles away.

In the evening attack outside the police academy, a person reportedly dressed in a police uniform walked into a group of recruits and detonated explosives, killing at least 20 and injuring about 25, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility.

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The attacks came days after the United Nations reported record high civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2015.

Along with the human devastation, the truck bombing caused massive damage to hundreds of nearby stores and homes. Hours after the bombing, the streets were lined with piles of broken glass.

Salahuddin said it wasn't until he was able to maneuver past the crowds and debris in the streets leading to his store that he realized that three members of his own staff, who had been sleeping in a back room of the store, were among the injured.

"Three of them were trapped underneath the rubble. I have no idea how they got out from underneath, the whole room was filled with smoke and debris, but by some miracle they did," he said.

While taking the three, two of them apprentices in their late teens, to a hospital, he picked up other injured in his Toyota station wagon.

Salahuddin said he eventually took 30 to 40 people to Ibn Sina Hospital.

"Finally, they told us there was no way they could attend to more patients," he told The Times from inside his nearly leveled store.

Mohammad Shah, who owns a kebab restaurant, said he has no choice but to continue working even though all the glass on the front of the restaurant is now shattered.

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At work in the kitchen Friday, he said it will take him at least a year to pay for repairs to his establishment, estimated to cost about 40,000 Afghanis, or $643.

"What choice do I have? I had to start working right away. … It will take at least a year to make the money, but I have to start somewhere."

The damage to the stores is especially troubling for the capital's business owners. They say the economy has stagnated since last year's presidential election, which lasted nearly a year.

Latifi is a speacial correspondent. The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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