A wounded Afghan police cadet receives treatment at an Italian aid organization hospital in Kabul, following a suicide bomb attack on a convoy of buses transporting police cadets in the Afghan capital.(Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan police officers search the wreckage of a bus at the site of a suicide bomb attack that targeted a convoy of buses transporting police cadets on the outskirts of Kabul.(Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan police officers run near the site of a suicide bombing that targeted a convoy of buses transporting police cadets on the outskirts of Kabul.(Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security personnel gather near the wreckage of bombed-out buses that had been carrying police cadets on the outskirts of Kabul.(Shah Marai / AFP/Getty Images)
An Afghan police officer secures the scene of a suicide bombing that attacked a police convoy on the outskirts of Kabul.(Hedayatullah Amid / EPA)
Two Taliban suicide bombers attacked several buses filled with police cadets Thursday, killing 30 and injuring at least 58, a government spokesman said.
The first bomber walked up to the convoy of buses arriving in Kabul from Wardak province, which is home to one of the largest police academies in Afghanistan, and detonated his explosives, according to Sediq Sediqqi, an Interior Ministry spokesman. As cadets and officers rushed to help survivors of the first blast, the second bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives, he said.
The cadets were largely in their late teens to mid-20s, officials said. Some of them had just graduated and were being transferred to new areas to work. Others were traveling to Kabul to celebrate Eid al Fitr, the period of feasting that marks the end of Ramadan and one of Islam’s most sacred holidays.
“We were following the bus that was targeted first,” said a police trainer, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the matter. Before he could stop and get out to help, the second bomb went off. “I saw a huge plume of fire in the sky and rushed to help injured ones,” he said.
“Forty-five policemen were riding on the first bus,” he said. “None of them survived. Some others were also killed and injured from the second blast.”
The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that over 100 policemen were killed and dozens wounded.
According to the governor of the province, Zundi Gul Zamani, 231 officers and cadets had set out from Wardak in five vehicles. “I instructed provincial security forces to take high security measures for their transportation, but sadly they were targeted in Kabul,” he said.
Sharif, 25, who only goes by one name, runs a blacksmith shop about 325 feet away from the blast. “It was around 12 p.m. that I heard a boom, which was not as powerful as the second one. All glass in my shop shattered, and I couldn’t see anything but explosion dust,” Sharif said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement that a probe would be launched to determine whether security protocols were followed adequately during the cadets’ trip.
The attack took place in an area of Kabul that the Taliban frequently targets in suicide attack missions. Eleven Wardak appellate court members were targeted by a suicide bomber on May 25 in the same provincial district, after six Taliban prisoners were ordered executed by the Afghan government on May 9.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned Thursday’s attack. “We will continue to stand with our Afghan partners and friends as they work to bring peace and security to Afghanistan,” the embassy said in a statement.