At least 20 people have been killed in a terrorist attack when a person detonated an explosive-laden vest outside the Supreme Court building in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, officials say.
Najibullah Danish, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said the assailant, approaching on foot, targeted the court’s employees at the end of their working day in front of a side door, meters away from the main entrance to the building, on Tuesday.
He further said the blast occurred when employees were boarding a bus to go home in the parking lot of the court compound, adding that at least 48 others were injured.
The Afghan Ministry of Health, which reported the initial casualty numbers, announced in a statement that the figure was expected to rise. It also said women and children were among the injured.
The court building is located in Macroryan district on a road leading from the Hamid Karzai International Airport to the United States embassy.
No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, although Afghan officials regularly blame the Taliban militant group for conducting such attacks. Taliban militants in the past have attacked the top court and its employees.
Police have already closed the roads and streets around the court building and ambulances and firefighting teams are on the scene. The panicked relatives of the court’s employees also begin to gather in the area.
Last month, Taliban militants carried out two bomb attacks against employees, who were exiting a parliament annex in the capital, killing at least 30 people and injuring 80 others.
Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.
Taliban militants lost their grip over Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion, but security has never taken hold in the country despite the presence of foreign boots on the Afghan soil. During the past 15 years, the militant group has been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians. They are reportedly in control of some areas in the country.
The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, operating mainly in Syria and Iraq, has also gained a foothold in Afghanistan and is competing with Taliban in acts of terror.