Bomb on Afghan army bus kills at least 27

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KABUL, Sep 29 (Reuters) A Taliban suicide bomber killed 27 Afghan troops and an unknown number of civilians today in an attack on an army bus in the capital, Kabul, officials said.

''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 Defence Ministry said the blast was caused by a suicide bomb. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The bus was split into two by the blast and shop windows were shattered all around. Residents helped police pick up pieces of flesh and put them into plastic bags.

''The explosion happened just after a group of Afghan National Army soldiers got onto the bus,'' said witness Mohammad Zaher who had cuts in his forehead from flying glass.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted from power for harbouring 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.

REUTERS SW RK1015

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