Kabul, Aug 7: A powerful car bomb in Kabul early on Friday killed at least seven people and wounded dozens of others, officials said, the first major attack in the Afghan capital since the announcement of Taliban leader Mullah Omar's death.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Taliban step up their summer offensive despite a bitter power transition within the militant movement.
The bombing, whose target was not immediately clear, comes a day after Taliban insurgents killed nine people in multiple attacks on police targets in southern and eastern Afghanistan "Seven people were killed and 198 wounded people were brought to hospitals," said health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar.
"The wounded including children are trickling into city hospitals, the casualty toll is expected to rise." Kabul police chief General Abdul Rahman Rahimi gave a higher death toll of eight, adding that 128 others were wounded.
"A car packed with explosives was detonated in the crowded residential neighbourhood of Shah Shaheed (in east Kabul). Several houses in the area were damaged," he said. "The killed and wounded include women and children. The attack was intended to cause mass murder."
The attacks highlight growing insecurity amid a faltering peace process with the Taliban as Afghan forces face their first summer fighting season without full NATO support. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2015, a UN report said Wednesday, as Afghan forces struggle to contain the expanding conflict seven months after the NATO combat mission ended.
The report said 1,592 civilians were killed, a six percent fall from last year, but the number of injured jumped four percent to 3,329. Overall, casualties reached their highest level since the UN began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.
The statistics are a grim indicator of the rising violence as the Taliban insurgency spreads north from its traditional southern and eastern strongholds, with Afghan forces increasingly battling the militants on their own. US-led NATO forces ended their combat mission in Afghanistan in December, but a 13,000-strong residual force remains for training and counter-terrorism operations.