Suicide bomber kills 30 aboard Kabul bus

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber who boarded a bus wearing an Afghan army uniform, killed 28 Afghan troops and two civilians in Kabul yesterday. It was the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since the Taliban were ousted from power almost six years ago.

The bus, carrying Afghan National Army personnel to work, was split in two by the blast, which left vehicles burnt out and shop windows shattered in a central district of Kabul. President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing, which was claimed by the Taliban, calling it "against people, against humanity, definitely against Islam". In a separate statement yesterday, he offered to meet the Taliban's leader, Mullah Omar, for peace talks and to give the militants a high position in a government ministry as a way to end the worsening insurgency.

Reiterating a call for negotiations he has made with increasing frequency over the last few weeks, the President said he was willing to meet Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a veteran warlord and former prime minister who has thrown in his lot with the Taliban. "If I find their address, there is no need for them to come to me, I'll personally get in touch with them," Mr Karzai said.

Taliban insurgents have largely shied away from large-scale, conventional attacks on foreign and Afghan forces since suffering heavy casualties in pitched battles last year. Instead, the rebels have resorted to suicide and roadside bomb attacks aimed at convincing the public that the government and its Western backers are unable to provide security. A suicide bomb attack in June on a bus carrying police officers in Kabul killed 24.

Yesterday four employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross, kidnapped earlier in the week, were freed, but negotiations continued to secure the release of the fifth, a German national.

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