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Blasts hit Afghan buses, more than 40 hurt

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, July 5 (Reuters) Bombs hit two buses taking Afghan government workers to their ministries in the capital Kabul today wounding more than 40 people, government officials said.

Violence by Taliban insurgents has surged in Afghanistan this year to its worst level since the militants were ousted in 2001 but most of the bloodshed has been in the south and east.

Attacks in Kabul are rare but on Tuesday two similar bomb attacks wounded about 10 people.

Today, an Afghan army bus was hit by a mine in the centre of the capital as it was travelling to the Ministry of Defence during the morning rush hour, the ministry said.

''A remote-control mine in a trash bin beside the road exploded and 39 ANA personnel were wounded,'' the ministry said a statement, referring to the Afghan National Army.

The wounded were not seriously hurt, it said.

''Our enemies don't have the ability to face the national army and are doing this to disturb and terrify the people,'' it said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A resurgent Taliban have claimed a wave of roadside and suicide bomb attacks, as well as ambushes, raids and assassinations this year.

The government says the attacks are aimed at unnerving NATO as it takes over from US-led forces in the Afghan south.

A security official said earlier a push cart had exploded as the Defence Ministry bus was passing.

The bus veered off the road into a shop selling cooking gas cylinders sparking a fire, the ministry said. The bus and some small shops were destroyed.

A young man with cuts on his face, Khoja Mohammad, said the blast went off just as he left his house. He said people on the bus and several passers-by had been hurt.

In the north of the city, a Commerce Ministry bus was hit by a blast. A policeman at the scene said one person had been killed and three wounded but the commerce and interior ministries said four people had been wounded.

''A cart blew up and four Commerce Ministry employees were wounded,'' said Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanizai.

A third blast went off beside a road in the east of the city but no one was hurt, police said.

The surge in violence, nearly five years after the Taliban were routed by Afghan opposition fighters U.S. troops, has come as a surprise to the government and its Western backers.

About 1,200 people, most of them militants, have been killed in Afghanistan since January. About 60 foreign troops have been killed.

NATO's expansion into the violent south, due at the end of the month, looks set to be the alliance's toughest ever ground mission.

Yesterday, a small bomb hit a Ministry of Interior bus in Kabul wounding a policeman.

A short while later, explosives packed in a street vending cart blew up outside the Justice Ministry, wounding more than six people.

The worst bomb attack in Kabul in recent years was on September 5, 2002, when about 26 people were killed by a car bomb. A gunman tried to shoot President Hamid Karzai in the southern city of Kandahar on the same day.

REUTERS SK SSC1227

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