26 killed, 18 injured in explosion in Kabul - Afghan Interior Minister

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Islamic State's local affiliate has repeatedly targeted Shiites in the Afghan capital over the past year, most recently on March 9, when 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque complex.

There were fears the figure could rise, however, with the health ministry giving a higher toll of 29 people killed and 52 wounded.

The attack took place near Kabul University and a government hospital, around one kilometer (mile) away from the Sakhi shrine, where people were gathered to celebrate the new year, said Gen. Daud Amin, Kabul's police chief.

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Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said another 18 people were wounded in the attack.

Both the Taliban and IS seem to be focusing their energies on carrying out attacks in Kabul, correspondents say.

The explosion happened on the first day of Nawroz, the Persian new year. "The area was crowded with civilians and families, a Kabul police officer in the area tells me".

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TOLO news journalists at the scene say they saw many casualties lying on the ground soon after the explosion, which is believed to have been a auto bomb.

Authorities had increased security ahead of Nawrooz festivities, which militants have previously struck with deadly force.

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