KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 70 people were killed and wounded in a thunderous bomb blast that ripped through a police academy bus Sunday morning, the deadliest attack in the capital since the fall of the Taliban.
A police spokesman said 35 people were killed and another 35 wounded in an explosion so powerful it blew the roof off the bus. The victims included police and civilians. The wounded were sent to nearby hospitals, straining the resources of Kabul's limited medical facilities.
The Taliban took credit for Sunday's blast, which Ministry of the Interior officials said was the work of a suicide bomber. The bomb went off inside the bus about 8 a.m. in downtown Kabul and rocked the capital for miles around. At the time of the blast, main roads were congested with rush-hour traffic, and sidewalks were crowded with beggars, vendors and pedestrians walking to work.
"I was thrown to the ground," said Nabil Mohammad, a vendor who sells and repairs shoes. "It was very loud. I saw some fire but could not hear anything for a long time."
A handwritten list of 20 people who died in the blast was posted on a broken wall near the blackened, skeletal remains of the bus. Hundreds of badly shaken police swung the butts of their rifles to chase away gawkers and in some instances punched and kicked men and women trying to read the list.
Nearly six years after an American-led military coalition toppled the Taliban, security remains elusive. Suicide bombings, kidnappings, roadside bombs and violent crime are part of everyday life in this Texas-size nation of about 30 million. Also on Sunday, three coalition soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were killed near Kandahar.
"When I go outside Kabul, I worry, now when I stay in Kabul, I worry," said pharmacist Mohammad Esa, who works near the blast site. "Something bad is always happening."
The bombing was the second attack in 24 hours. On Saturday, a suicide bomber killed four people in west Kabul. In another recent suicide attack against a NATO convoy, 10 people including six children died in Uruzgan province.
This month, the International Committee of the Red Cross found that in the past year a renewed Taliban insurgency had spread north and west far from its traditional strongholds in the country's south. In April, for instance, Taliban fighters attacked the province of Kapisa only 45 miles from Kabul.
In Kabul last September, a suicide bomb killed 16, including two American soldiers. A suicide attack near the Interior Ministry days later left 12 people dead and more than 40 others wounded.
Afghanistan's renewed explosion of war killed an estimated 3,700 people last year.
(Garcia reports for the Kansas City Star.)