At least 12 were killed and 105 wounded in Afghanistan's capital Kabul when a car bomb exploded outside a private hospital, the Afghan Ministry of Heath said Saturday.
The suicide bombing was targeting a NATO convoy and killed three U.S. contractors inside. However, the majority of those killed and injured were Afghan civilians. According to Reuters, the contractors worked for DynCorp International, a private U.S. security firm with a long involvement in the war.
The vast majority of casualties, however, were Afghan civilians. At least one woman and two children were among those killed in the attack, said Najib Danish of the Interior Ministry.
Security officials said that the powerful blast destroyed several vehicles, including a school van and an armored pick-up truck which was left twisted and blackened, with another car in flames.
“Fortunately none of the students were hurt, but the madrasa is 100 percent destroyed,” Shams-ul Rahman, a prominent religious cleric who was on his way to a madrasa to teach a class of female Quran students when the bomb went off, told the Guardian. “I’m not naming any group, but whoever did this, they thought they targeted the foreigners but they hit the core of religion, the madrasa. I don’t think any of the students will ever come here again.”
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This year alone, more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, making 2015 the bloodiest year since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
While the U.S. had formally ended its operations in Afghanistan and withdrew its combat troops last December, more than 9,000 U.S. soldiers remain in the country in an advisory and counter-terrorism capacity. There are more than 13,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, including the U.S. troops.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack and Taliban has denied it was behind it.
The latest attack highlights the surge in violence across the country as it comes only two weeks after three separate attacks took place in Kabul and killed more than 50 people.