Separate Bomb Attacks Kill At Least 22 In Afghanistan

afghanstan2More than 20 people were killed in separate bomb attacks in Afghanistan on Monday, including at least 14 when a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying Nepalese security contractors in the Afghan capital, officials said.

In Kabul, a Reuters witness saw several apparently dead victims and at least two wounded being carried out of the twisted remains of a yellow bus after the suicide bomber struck the vehicle during the morning rush hour in the capital.

Hours later, a bomb planted in a motorbike killed at least eight civilians and wounded another 18 in a crowded market in the northern province of Badakhshan, said provincial government spokesman Naveed Frotan. The casualty count could rise, he said.

The attacks are the latest in a recent surge of violence that highlights the challenges faced by the Afghan government in Kabul and its Western backers as Washington slowly draws down its remaining troops despite a persistent insurgency.

Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter that 14 people had been killed and eight wounded in the attack in Kabul. Police were working to identify the victims, he said.

The casualties appeared to include Afghan civilians and Nepalese security contractors, Kabul police chief, Abdul Rahman Rahimi said after police and emergency vehicles surrounded the scene in the Banae district in the east of the city.

He said that the suicide bomber had waited near a compound housing the security contractors and struck as the vehicle moved through early morning traffic. As well as the bus passengers, several people in an adjacent market were also wounded in the attack, which occurred during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack in a statement from the Islamist group’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, on Twitter. There was no immediate indication of who carried out the attack in Badakshan.

The Nepalese government was still working through its embassy in Pakistan, which also oversees Afghanistan, to verify reports that its citizens were involved in the attack, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bharat Paudel said.

Northern Afghanistan Hit By Magnitude Earthquake

Afghanistan earthquakeA powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake has struck northern Afghanistan, with tremors felt as far away as India.

According to the US geological survey, the quake’s epicentre was in the northern province of Badakhshan, close to the Pakistani and Tajik borders.

It is not clear if there were any casualties in the area itself, but at least 17 people were injured in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Hundreds were killed by a quake in the same area on October the 26th.

Residents in the Afghan capital, Kabul, and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, were reported to have run into the streets after feeling the impact of the quake.

The region has a history of powerful earthquakes caused by the northward collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates.

In 2005, a magnitude 7.6 quake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir left more than 75,000 people dead.

In April this year, Nepal suffered its worst earthquake on record with 9,000 people killed and about 900,000 homes damaged or destroyed.