Afghan police inspect the scene of a suicide attack
Kabul - AFP
A suicide attacker killed at least seven people after detonating a car bomb near a district police headquarters in the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, officials said.
The powerful blast came in Muradkhani district, close to the presidential palace, the defence ministry and the ministry of finance.
The attack breaks the recent lull in the Afghan capital. The last suicide attack in Kabul came on February 26, when a Taliban suicide car bomber targeted a Turkish diplomatic vehicle belonging to NATO, killing two people.
"The initial reports from Kabul hospitals show seven killed and 22 wounded including women and children," Sayed Kabir Amiri, the head of hospitals in the capital, told AFP.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed the death toll and said 36 people, including women and children, were wounded.
He said all those killed and wounded were civilians adding that the attack involved a "car full of explosives that detonated near Police District 2 headquarters".
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, calling it "inhuman and un-Islamic".
Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said the target of the attack appeared to be civilians.
Witnesses described the damage wrought by the blast.
"It was a very powerful explosion. All the window panes of the shops around our area are broken. It was during rush hour, the city was very crowded." Mostafa, a government employee in the area, told AFP.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide bombers are a common weapon of the Taliban in their 13-year-long war to topple the US-backed Afghan government.
The explosion comes hours after Taliban told AFP that US President Barack Obama's decision to slow US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would hamper peace efforts in the country and they would continue their fighting.
Obama on Tuesday reversed plans to withdraw around 5,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year, an overture to the country's new reform-minded leader, President Ashraf Ghani.
Hosting Ghani at the White House for their first presidential head-to-head, Obama agreed to keep the current level of 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2015.
"Obama's announcement to continue to keep troops in Afghanistan is a response to the peace efforts," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"This damages all the prospects for peace. This means the war will go on until they are defeated," he said.