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Suicide bomber kills at least 19 at Afghanistan top court

KABUL: Police officers inspect the site of suicide attack at the Supreme Court in Kabul, Afghanistan yesterday. —AP

KABUL: A suicide bomber attacked Afghanistan’s Supreme Court just as staff were leaving work yesterday, killing at least 19 people and injuring 41 in the second attack on government institutions in under a month. The bomber, who was on foot, detonated the device in the parking lot as employees were boarding a bus to go home, interior ministry spokesman Najibullah Danish said. The casualty figures came from health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh, who said women and children were among the wounded.

Police blocked off the road around the compound as panicked relatives of court employees began to gather and ambulances and fire trucks arrived. The compound is sited on the road leading from Kabul international airport to the US embassy. Last month twin suicide blasts claimed by Taleban insurgents tore through employees exiting a parliament annexe in Kabul, killing 30 people and wounding 80.  The carnage underscores growing insecurity in Afghanistan, where local forces are struggling to combat a resilient Taleban insurgency as well as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants more than two years after NATO’s combat mission ended.

On Monday the United Nations said civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2016 were the highest recorded by the world body, with nearly 11,500 non-combatants-one third of them children-killed or wounded. Earlier this month an official US watchdog said the death rate among Afghan troops and police soared last year as the government’s overall control of the country declined significantly.

The grim new statistics paint a picture of a beleaguered nation still in the grip of a security crisis, despite many years and billions of dollars spent building up Afghanistan’s army and police. No group has yet claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack, but the Taleban have targeted the court previously. They killed 15 civilians with a suicide car bomb at the entrance to the compound in 2013. At the time the insurgent group threatened further attacks on the judiciary if it continued to sentence its militants to death. – AFP

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