A car bomb has exploded in western Kabul, killing dozens of people. The attack, which has been claimed by the Taliban, happened near the home of the deputy to Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
The death toll from Monday morning's car bombing in the west of Kabul could rise further, according to the Interior Ministry.
At least 24 people were killed and more than 40 were injured in the blast in the Afghan capital, officials said.
Acting ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the target of the attack remained unclear, and that all the dead and wounded were civilians. He added that three vehicles and 15 shops were destroyed in the blast.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry called the blast a "criminal attack against humanity."
Taliban claim of responsibility
The suicide bomber appeared to target a minibus, according to eyewitnesses. The bus was reportedly carrying employees of the mines and petroleum industry.
The blast occurred near the residence of Mohammad Mohaqiq, the deputy of Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. The area is one where many of the mainly Shiite Hazara community live.
Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the bombing, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying the attack targeted two buses belonging to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country's spy agency.
Escalation of violence
The incident comes as the Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country in recent days. A number of districts fell to the militants over the weekend.
Attacks in Kabul have caused at least 20 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan this year. The worst attack killed at least 150 people at the end of May.
At least 1,662 civilians have been killed in the country so far this year, the UN says.
Hospital attack in Ghor
Afghan officials on Monday also blamed a weekend attack on a hospital in central Ghor province on the Taliban.
A presidential spokesman said 35 civilians had been killed "when the Taliban entered the hospital," without saying whether the victims were patients or staff.
Unconfirmed reports on Sunday had claimed that the Taliban had set the hospital alight and killed those inside, but the spokesman did not refer to any arson.
The assault came as the insurgents captured Taywara district in Ghor province after several days of fighting. They have, however, denied responsibility for the hospital attack, though a spokesman said parts of the local hospital were damaged in fighting in the area.
tj/rc (dpa, AFP, AP)