KABUL — A Taliban suicide bomber struck outside Afghanistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday, killing 17 people in the deadliest attack in Kabul in over a year and a half.
It was also the second consecutive day of attacks in the Afghan capital, undermining the ability of Afghan forces to keep security without help from NATO troops.
The attacker rammed his SUV into buses carrying court employees at the end of the day’s work. All of the dead were civilians, including women and children, police said, and at least 39 people were wounded.
The Taliban said they delivered a blow to “cruel judges” who obey Western powers, and warned of more bombings to come.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying it was another “terrorist act that once again shows the Taliban are serving the enemies of Islam.” Tuesday’s attack was the deadliest in Kabul since Dec. 6, 2011, when a suicide bomber on foot hit worshippers at a Shia shrine, killing at least 80 people.
It came just a day after heavily armed fighters launched a failed assault on NATO’s operational headquarters at the military section of Kabul’s international airport. All seven attackers were killed by Afghan forces and only two civilians were wounded in Monday’s attack.
Hitting such high-profile targets as the Supreme Court or the international airport stirs up fear and threatens to shake confidence in Karzai’s government. The courthouse is on a busy main road in central Kabul, near the U.S. Embassy. The NATO headquarters is also nearby.
Tuesday’s blast went off as court employees were leaving the building from the back entrance, mostly in buses or private cars, said police officer Jahn Agha. Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said the bomber specifically targeted the buses with court workers.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.
Also Tuesday, two police officers and two truck drivers were killed when insurgents attacked a convoy carrying cargo through the eastern province of Ghazni. Deputy police chief Asadullah Insafi said three insurgents were also killed in the attack.