IMAGE: Suicide bomb blast in Kabul
Syed Jan Sabawoon  /  EPA
French NATO soldiers secure the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.
updated 10/2/2007 4:41:23 PM ET 2007-10-02T20:41:23

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked to its highest level since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, with an Associated Press count of insurgency-related deaths this year surpassing the 5,000 mark and a U.N. report finding that attacks have risen by 20 percent.

A suicide attack Tuesday on a police bus in western Kabul killed 13 officers and civilians, including a woman and her two children who boarded the vehicle seconds before the explosion.

The bombing, which ripped the roof off the bus, was the second to target a bus in Kabul in four days. It came as insurgents turned up attacks against Afghanistan’s security forces during a year of record violence.

A new U.N. report found that while 76 percent of all suicide bombings in the country have targeted international and Afghan security forces, 143 civilians were killed by those bombs through August. The report, released in New York last week, also found that Afghanistan has averaged 550 violent incidents per month this year, up from 425 last year.

An AP count of insurgency-related deaths, meanwhile, reached 5,086 so far this year, the most deaths in Afghanistan since the invasion to topple the Taliban. The AP counted some 4,000 deaths in 2006, based on reports from Western and Afghan officials.

The AP tally counts more than 3,500 militants among the dead, but also more than 650 civilians killed either by militant violence or U.S. or NATO attacks. Almost 180 international soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year, including 85 Americans, a record pace. Last year, about 90 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan.

Insurgents have also launched a record number of suicide attacks — more than 100 — including two bus bombings in Kabul since Saturday that killed 43 people between them.

Body parts litter bus seats
Four children were among the 13 people killed in Tuesday’s suicide attack by a man wearing a pakul — an Afghan hat commonly seen in the country’s north — and a shawl around the upper half of his body called a chador, said Amin Gul, who owns a metalworking shop next to the blast site.

“When the bus came, an old man got on, then a woman with two children, then the guy wearing the chador entered, and then a big boom,” said Gul, who witnessed the attack.

The seats in the front of the bus were covered in blood and small body parts, and workers washed blood from nearby trees after the attack. Ten people were wounded in the bombing, Health Minister Mohammad Amin Fatemi said.

Ahmad Saqi, a 20-year-old mechanic, said he helped put seven people in vehicles for runs to the hospital, and that several of the wounded had no legs.

“One woman was holding a baby in her arms, and they were both killed,” Saqi said. “Half of the woman’s face was blown off.”

The blast killed eight police, the mother, her baby and another child, as well as two unaccompanied children who had been heading to a special school for handicapped students, Fatemi said. The children ranged in age from 2 to 8.

“The woman’s husband is working at the Health Ministry. How do we tell the father his wife and two kids are dead?” asked Fatemi. “This attack goes against all of Islam. There is no reason to blow up Muslims, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. My message to these people: Please stop killing Muslims.”

Tuesday’s explosion is the third attack in four months against police or army buses in Kabul.

High death tolls in single attacks
On Saturday, a suicide bomber wearing an army uniform blew himself up in an army bus, killing 30 people. In June, a bomb ripped through a bus carrying police instructors in Kabul, killing 35 people in the deadliest insurgent attack since the 2001 invasion.

A coalition soldier was killed by gunfire Tuesday morning while conducting combat operations in the northeastern province of Kunar. Three other soldiers were wounded, the coalition said in a statement. The nationalities of the soldiers weren’t provided, but most soldiers in eastern Afghanistan are American.

Militants in Kunar attacked a border security post, killing three police, said Zargun Shah Khaliqyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor. It was not clear if the two incidents in Kunar were related.

Canadian troops in Kandahar shot and killed a 35-year-old man and wounded a child in what NATO’s International Security Assistance Force called an “accidental discharge” by a weapons system.

The Afghan Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Afghan and coalition soldiers battled insurgents in Uruzgan province on Sunday, killing 26 of the militants. There was no way to independently verify the claim.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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