At least 40 people have been killed and hundreds injured after a series of bombs went off in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Friday.
The wave of attacks, all within a 24-hour period, included a massive truck bomb in the city centre killing seven people and wounding around 400.
The unusually powerful blast ripped through the city, injuring hundreds and destroying shops and homes. Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said:”A truck bomb detonated close to an army compound.”
In a separate blast, a suicide attack on the city’s police training academy killed at least 40 new recruits and injured 20 on Friday evening.
It’s thought that a suicide bomber wearing police uniform ran into the centre around 8pm to detonate the device.
An officer told Reuters that the number of casualties was high because it was that time of the evening when cadets were leaving for the weekend.
The Taliban, who named a new leader last week, claimed responsibility for the attack on the police academy.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani suggested that the group is seeking to divert attention away from its leadership struggles after the rebels recently confirmed that former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar died two years ago.
Shortly after the suicide attack at the police training centre, two explosions happened near Kabul’s airport, where a military camp was targeted with a car bomb and then fighters on foot with gunfire.
Police said the attack was to the north of the airport, close to a residential area and several NATO and Afghan military bases.
The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan said that eight civilian contractors were killed along with one of its service members.
Colonel Brian Tribus, director of public affairs for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, said authorities were still gathering information about the attack on the Camp Integrity facility.
He said in a statement:”One Resolute Support service member and two insurgent attackers were killed.”
The deaths, injuries and damages are another blow to a tentative peace process that held its first meeting in July but was suspended last week.
These attacks are the most serious in months, and the first in Kabul since the Taliban named a new leader. Mullah Akhtar Mansour has been appointed as new Taliban head, causing a leadership dispute and bringing fractions to the group.