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The Times, December 5, 2007

Children caught in the carnage as suicide bomber targets Afghan soldiers

"It was a big explosion and sent fire into the sky. When I moved in I saw scores of bodies, legs, arms, heads, flesh everywhere"

By Nick Meo in Kabul

A suicide bomber packed a car with explosives and blew it up next to a minibus transporting Afghan soldiers early today, killing at least 16 people, including several children.

sucide blast area in Kabul

Asadullah with his father
Asadullah (right) the young boy of a family who was killed in the blast on Dec.5, 2007. He got married on a month ago. His another brother is seriously wounded.

The death toll was expected to rise after the massive blast, in a southern suburb. The detonation could be heard across the Afghan capital at 7am.

It came after a two-day visit to Afghanistan by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, during which US officials gave warning that al-Qaeda is again targeting the country. In the past 12 days there have been five suicide attacks in and around the capital. Yesterday a suicide bomber targeted foreign troops on an approach road to Kabul's international airport. They were unscathed, but 22 Afghans were wounded.

The minibus hit in today's attack was carrying Afghan National Army soldiers, at least eight of whom died, along with eight civilians. Some of them were nearby shopkeepers, while others were children who were on their way to school.

Witnesses said the minibus stopped in the same place every day to pick up passengers.

Although there have been 133 suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan this year, such attacks in the capital remain fairly unusual. A suicide bomber killed 35 people on a police bus in June.

But there are fears that the Taliban could now be increasingly targeting the capital after pushing up to territory just outside the city. There are fears, too, that they could continue to launch attacks over the winter, traditionally a time when fighting ends in Afghanistan.

A man claiming to speak for the Taliban named the bomber as Abdul Rahman, an Afghan from the eastern city of Khost. Many Afghans find it difficult to believe that their countrymen could launch such attacks and prefer to blame Arabs or Pakistanis.

Akbari Sarwar, an Afghan journalist who witnessed the blast, told AFP news agency: "It was a big explosion and sent fire into the sky. When I moved in I saw scores of bodies, legs, arms, heads, flesh everywhere."

A Health Ministry spokesman, Abdullah Fahim, said that four of the dead were children, while an unnamed Defence Ministry spokesman said that as many as 20 civilians may have died in the attack.

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