KABUL -- A Taliban suicide bomber killed 27 Afghan troops and an unknown number of civilians on Saturday in an attack on an army bus in Kabul, officials said.
Afghans carry a victim after a suicide blast in Kabul September 29, 2007. A Taliban suicide bomber killed 27 Afghan troops and an unknown number of civilians on Saturday in an attack on an army bus in the capital, Kabul, officials said. [Reuters]
"So far the information that we have is that 27 Afghan National Army personnel were killed and 21 soldiers also on the bus were wounded," said army spokesman Zaher Murat. "There are also civilian casualties but we don't know the exact number."
The Defense Ministry said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber dressed in army uniform who approached the bus carrying Afghan National Army personnel to work.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast split the bus into two and shattered shop windows.
Police and soldiers piled bodies onto army vehicles. Residents helped police pick up pieces of flesh and put them into plastic bags. A boy stood crying next to the police cordon saying he was looking for his father who sold cigarettes from a hand-cart next to the site of the bomb.
"The explosion happened just after a group of Afghan National Army soldiers got onto the bus," said witness Mohammad Zaher who had cuts on his forehead from flying glass.
"I heard a big bang. I saw the bus ... destroyed," said witness Ahmad Waleed. "I saw several bodies of military personnel being carried from the site alongside bodies of some workers who were sitting at the roundabout. The army and police arrived very late."
It was the deadliest Taliban attack in the Afghan capital since the hardline Islamist movement was ousted from power for harboring al Qaeda leaders in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Taliban insurgents have largely shied away from large-scale conventional attacks on foreign and Afghan forces since suffering heavy casualties in pitched battles last year.
Instead, the rebels have resorted to suicide and roadside bomb attacks aimed at convincing ordinary Afghans their government and its Western backers are unable to provide security.
A suicide bomb attack in June on a bus carrying police officers in Kabul killed 24.