Kabul: A Taliban suicide bomber struck a police base in central Kabul yesterday, killing at least 20 people just days before a fresh round of international talks aimed at reviving dialogue with the Islamist group. Scores of people were also wounded in the bombing at the entrance of the base, which left several bodies and charred debris strewn around the area.

Afghan security personnels carry a victim at the site of the blast. Pic/AFP
Afghan security personnels carry a victim at the site of the blast. Pic/AFP

The attack comes amid the Taliban’s unprecedented winter offensive despite a renewed push to restart formal peace talks. The interior ministry initially reported the attack as a suicide car bomb, but later said the attacker appeared to be on foot and detonated himself in a queue of people waiting to get inside the base.

“As a result of the terrorist attack this afternoon... 20 people were martyred and 29 others were wounded,” Afghanitsan’s interior ministry said. Most of the victims were civilians. Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid earlier reported a death toll of nine, adding that as many as 12 people including a woman were wounded.

The health ministry said some of those wounded were hit in the chest by flying shrapnel and are in critical condition. Ambulances rushed to the scene, which was cordoned off by authorities.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claiming on Twitter that up to 40 police officers were killed and wounded. The militants routinely exaggerate the toll in attacks on the Afghan government.