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Afghanistan's Violent Surge Hits Kabul

Three bombs exploded Wednesday in the Afghan capital in attacks that targeted buses carrying government workers and security forces, killing one bystander and injuring at least 47 other people, police and witnesses said.

The blasts, coming a day after two other bombings in Kabul, raised fears that violence roiling the south and east of the country could be spreading to the capital amid a spike in attacks by resurgent Taliban militants.

In the first attack at around 7:15 a.m., a remote-controlled bomb targeted an Afghan National Army bus in downtown Kabul, wounding 39 people on board, the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Police said the bomb had been hidden in a garbage container on the street.

Video footage from AP Television showed plumes of black smoke pouring out of a burning bus, as ambulance sirens wailed nearby. Another explosion is heard in the vicinity though it's unclear whether it was a bomb or a gas cylinder in the bus.

The blast sent the bus veering out of control and it crashed nearby. All the wounded were taken to a military hospital and are listed in stable condition, the statement said.

A second bomb hidden in a hand cart exploded 15 minutes later in northern Kabul as a bus carrying Commerce Ministry employees drove by, killing one bystander and injuring eight others, police and witnesses said.

Five of the wounded were inside the bus, which was carrying 16 ministry workers, said government worker Noor Hak Stanezai, who had been on board. Police officer Mohammad Nawad said that one civilian bystander was killed and three others injured outside of the bus.

"It was lucky the bus was not full or else there would have been more casualties," Stanezai said.

Police cordoned off the area. An AP reporter on the scene said the inside of the bus was bloodstained and filled with broken glass. Shrapnel from the explosion pockmarked the right side of the bus and the windows were shattered.

A police official said a bus carrying Interior Ministry workers had been following just behind the bus that got hit.

A third explosion in eastern Kabul targeted an Afghan army convoy on Policharki Road, but no casualties were reported, said police officer Mohammad Nasim. The blast left a hole one meter (yard) wide at the roadside.

A day earlier, Kabul had been rocked by two bombs. A roadside bomb went off Monday in eastern Kabul near a bus bringing Interior Ministry officials to work, injuring one of them.

A second bomb that day, hidden in a cart, exploded in a crowded intersection of downtown Kabul, injuring 10 people. That blast occurred at a busy traffic intersection near the presidential palace, shattering windows at a cinema and the nearby Justice Ministry.
AMIR SHAH

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