World

KABUL – At least 48 people have died after a suicide bomber targeted an education center in a minority Shia area of western Kabul, in the latest assault in Afghanistan’s war-weary capital.

“We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot. The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre,” said a police spokesman, Hashmat Stanikzai.

The health ministry said 48 people had died, with another 67 wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Taliban quickly denied involvement.

In a separate incident, a Taliban attack on an Afghan military outpost in the northern province of Baghlan killed up to 44 policemen and soldiers.

The attacks underlined how hard militants have been pressuring badly stretched local security forces, and came as the central city of Ghazni struggles to recover from five days of intense fighting.

Analysts have said the Ghazni assault on was a military and psychological victory for the Taliban, proving the insurgents had the strength to strike a strategically vital city near the capital at will and remain entrenched there for days.

At least 100 security forces were killed in the fight for Ghazni, officials said, and it is feared that at least as many civilians died.

Afghan security forces have taken significant losses since US-led Nato combat forces pulled out of the country at the end of 2014. But it is ordinary Afghans who have borne the brunt of the violence, especially in Kabul which the United Nations has said is the deadliest place for civilians in the country.

Militant attacks and suicide bombs were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of 2018, a recent UN report said.

The uptick in violence comes as US and Afghan forces intensify ground and air offensives against Islamic State (IS) and the Taliban step up their turf war with the group.

The Taliban have not claimed a major assault in Kabul for weeks. Isis has carried out multiple attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital in recent months, targeting sites including government ministries and a midwife training centre.