MAZAR-I-SHARIF: A roadside bomb killed seven petroleum company employees commuting to work on a packed bus in northern Afghanistan’s biggest city, an official and survivors said on Tuesday.

Although the Taliban claim to have improved national security since storming back to power in August last year, there have been scores of bomb blasts and attacks — many claimed by the local chapter of the militant Islamic State group.

A police official said Tuesday’s blast happened around 7am (0230 GMT) in Mazar-i-Sharif — an ancient city famed for its beautiful blue mosque. “I was reading the Quran on my phone screen and there was a boom,” survivor Azim, whose right leg was injured by shrapnel, said.

Mohammad Hanif, who was also hurt in the blast, said there were around 52 people aboard the bus at the time. Seven people were killed and six others wounded, according to Asif Waziri, spokesman for the Balkh province police department.

“The bomb was placed in a cart by the roadside. It was detonated as the bus arrived,” he said. There has so far been no claim of responsibility.

At least 19 people were killed and 24 others wounded earlier this month by a blast at a religious seminary in Aybak, southeast of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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