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Blasts hit Afghan buses, one dead, 45 hurt

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, July 5 (Reuters) Blasts hit two buses taking Afghan government workers to their ministries in Kabul today killing one person and wounding 45 in the second day of attacks in the Afghan capital.

Separately, the US military said about 35 Taliban were killed in a Tuesday night attack on a Taliban compound in the southern province of Helmand.

Violence by Taliban rebels 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 bomb attacks wounded about 10 people in the city.

Today, an Afghan army bus was attacked as it was travelling to the Ministry of Defence.

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

The wounded were not seriously hurt. The bus veered off the road into a cooking-gas shop, sparking a fire and more blasts as cylinders exploded. Two passers-by were injured.

About the same time, a bomb in an abandoned vendor's cart hit a bus carrying Ministry of Commerce workers in the north of the city. One person was killed and four wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The insurgents have mounted scores of bomb attacks, ambushes and raids this year. The intensity of the violence has taken the government and its Western backers by surprise.

The US military said about 35 militants were killed in the attack on a Taliban compound in Helmand that included air strikes.

''Several of the extremists killed were Taliban leaders who planned and conducted multiple attacks,'' the U.S.-led force said. No members of the coalition force or non-combatants were wounded, it said.

Helmand is one of Afghanistan's most violent provinces.

Seven foreign soldiers, five British and two Americans, have been killed there in the past month.

CONDEMNATION, FEAR The United States had been hoping to trim its troop numbers this year as a NATO peacekeeping force took over in the south.

It now has 23,000 troops in Afghanistan, the most since its involvement began in 2001.

President Hamid Karzai, who is on a visit to Japan, and the United Nations condemned the Kabul blasts.

Traffic was thin on the city's usually clogged streets later today.

''It's scary. I'm not sending my kids to school, who knows what's going to happen,'' said Mohammad Shafiq, who lives near the site of one of the blasts.

Yesterday, a small bomb hit a Ministry of Interior bus wounding a policeman. A bomb in a vending cart blew up outside the Justice Ministry, wounding more than six people.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Mohammad Hanif, said by telephone the attacks had shown the Taliban could strike anywhere. He vowed more.

The government says the Taliban are trying to unnerve NATO as it embarks on what looks set to be its toughest mission when it takes over in the south late this month.

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

The most serious bomb attack in Kabul in recent years was on Sept. 5, 2002, when about 26 people were killed.

REUTERS CH RK2008

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