At least 35 dead following suicide attack in Afghanistan

More than 40 others - including children - were wounded in the attack in western Kabul

At least 35 dead following suicide attack in Afghanistan

A damaged room at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, 24-07-2017. Image: Xinhua/Rahmat Alizadah

At least 35 people have been killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in the west of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

More than 40 others were wounded - including children - when a car packed with explosives was rammed into a bus carrying government employees just before 7am local time on Monday.

The death toll could yet rise, with the country's interior ministry branding the atrocity in the busy neighbourhood a "criminal attack against humanity."

Police said the attacker targeted a vehicle carrying employees of the ministry of mines and petroleum.

Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani said: "Once again, these terrorists are attacking civilians and targeting government staff."

Three other cars and several shops were also destroyed in the blast.

"The bomber attacked at one of the busiest times of the day," said a Kabul police spokesman.

"There were traffic jams with people going to work and to the university and schools. Many of the shops had just opened."

The blast hit an area of Kabul that is home to many Shia Hazaras, a persecuted ethnic minority who have been targeted many times in the past.

The attack also took place near the home of deputy government chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq.

His spokesman said the bomb had detonated near the first checkpoint approaching the house, "killing and wounding some civilians."

He added: "We assume the car wanted to target Mr Mohaqiq's house but was stopped by guards."

Witness Mohammed Nader owns a shop nearby and said the sound from the explosion had been "very strong", adding: "The ground shook."

Black smoke rose above the charred remains of the minibus, with multiple bodies and wounded victims lying among shattered glass from buildings in the street.

The Taliban, which has claimed the bombing, has stepped up its campaign against Afghanistan's western-backed government in recent days.

The area of western Kabul has been the scene of several previous attacks.

An Islamic State bombing killed prominent Shia Muslim cleric and senior Hazara community leader Ramazan Hussainzada last month.

Monday's attack was the second against employees of the mines and petroleum ministry, after a bus carrying workers was targeted last year, killing several people.

At least 1,662 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan during the first half of 2017 and Kabul has accounted for at least 20% of these deaths, according to the United Nations.

With reporting from IRN ...