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At Least 35 Killed in Bomb Attack on Police Bus in Kabul

A powerful explosion has ripped through a police bus in the Afghan capital, and local officials say at least 35 people were killed and many others seriously injured. From Islamabad, VOA's Benjamin Sand reports that roadside and suicide bomb attacks are on the rise throughout Afghanistan.

Local officials say the bus was en route to the Police Academy, and was carrying a number of new recruits.

Speaking by phone from the scene, Kabul Police Chief Esmatullah Doulatzai said at least 20 people were killed.

Doulatzai says the blast also injured 24 other people, including two Japanese and a Korean who were in the vicinity. Other officials have put the death count at more than 35.

Police officials' initial conclusion was that the bomb was detonated inside a police transport bus.

But several eyewitnesses reported seeing an apparent suicide bomber approach the vehicle in central Kabul shortly before the powerful blast.

Taleban insurgents are already claiming responsibility for the Saturday morning attack, saying it was a suicide bombing.

If true, it would be the fifth suicide attack in Afghanistan in the last three days. The massive explosion could be heard throughout the Afghan capital. The blast tore the roof off the bus, leaving little more than a charred and twisted chassis.

Witnesses say dead bodies were strewn across the wreckage and the surrounding street. The injured were taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors say the death toll is expected to rise.

The attack is already one of the deadliest in the capital since U.S. forces ousted the Islamist Taleban regime in 2001.

Previous suicide attacks over the past week have left at least 14 people dead, and rekindled concerns about declining security conditions throughout the country.