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Second Blast Hits Kabul 24 Hours After Suicide Bombing Kills 15

VICE News was on the streets of the Afghan capital after the fatal attack, where residents struggled to cope with the devastation. Yet those people not in hospital were returning immediately to work.
Photo by Ali M Latifi

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A blast has hit near the police academy in the Afghan capital of Kabul — the second suicide bombing in less than 24 hours.

"A suicide bomber on foot blew himself up near the academy," Deputy Interior Ministry Spokesman Najib Danish said on Friday, adding that casualties were expected.

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The attack was confirmed by Kabul's Deputy Police Chief Gul Agha Rouhani.

This afternoon the neighborhood of Shah Shahid was struggling to cope after a powerful suicide bomb left at least 15 people dead and wounded 240, including 47 women and 33 children.

The early Friday morning blast occurred after an explosives-laden truck was detonated near an outpost of the Afghan National Security Forces shortly after 1am local time. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hospitals in the surrounding areas have struggled to cope with the toll of injured people, which Wahidullah Mayar, a Ministry of Public Health spokesman, initially said was as high as 400.

Photo by Ali M Latifi

Though most of the injuries were superficial scratches and wounds caused by shattered glass and falling debris, local residents told VICE News they were turned away from hospitals due to the sheer volume of patients. Mayar said at least 27 women and 10 children were among the wounded.

The blast, taking place on a road lined with stores and homes on both sides, also caused considerable damage to the exteriors of both residential and commercial buildings.

Photo by Ali M Latifi

Abdul Munir, who owns a barber shop near the site of the attack, said the damages would take him months to pay for. "I ran straight here and saw that every window, even the ones in the back wash rooms, was completely shattered," he told VICE News.

The 35-year-old said the front windows and doors alone would cost 35,000 afghanis ($562) to replace. Knowing the high cost of repairs, Munir said he had little choice but to reopen the shop only hours after the attack.

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"The money for the repairs has to come from somewhere," Munir told VICE News, as his barbers and customers recounted the tale of the loudest explosion they say they have ever heard.

Other businesses, too, felt the current economic situation — which is still reeling from the fallout of last year's months-long presidential election — meant they had to return to work.

Photo by Ali M Latifi

A bakery, with all of its exterior windows shattered, was one of the shops that reopened. Eid Mohamad, a local resident standing outside waiting for a loaf of bread, said his two brothers, 25 and 27, were injured by broken glass and fallen debris.

Those who suffered more extensive damage were not so lucky to return to work. The streets were filled shards of glass, that were then being transported in full wheelbarrows by young men and children. Street children then began to sift through the piles for scrap metal and plastic.

Photo by Ali M Latifi

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, having just returned from surgery in Germany, went immediately to the Italian-run emergency hospital in Kabul to visit the injured.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its latest report on civilian casualties in the country. This documented 4,921 civilian casualties (1,592 deaths and 3,329 injured) in the first half of 2015, a 1 per cent increase in total civilian casualties compared to the same period last year.

Today, Nicholas Haysom, the UN secretary-general's Special Representative for Afghanistan, stated: "I condemn, in the strongest terms, today's indiscriminate attack in Kabul. I reiterate UNAMA's repeated calls for the immediate ban of weapons which kill and maim indiscriminately, and to cease attacks in civilian-populated areas. Those responsible for such attacks must be held accountable."

Related: Suicide Bombing and Helicopter Crash Mark Another Bloody Day in Afghanistan

Follow Ali M Latifi on Twitter: @alibomaye