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Afghanistan: Strong Blast Rocks Kabul, Casualties Reported

Kabul, 5 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A powerful car bomb blast rocked the Afghan capital Kabul today, reportedly causing heavy casualties. The blast took place in a crowded market area near the Ministry of Information. Emergency vehicles and armored personnel carriers from the international peacekeeping force rushed to the scene.

Casualty figures are still unclear. One Afghan police officer told Reuters that 22 people had been killed. But a Kabul deputy police chief later said 10 had been killed and 16 wounded, including two policemen. CNN reports many of the wounded have been taken to a nearby hospital.

The deputy police chief, Mohammad Khalil, said there was a small explosion from a bicycle, followed by a massive explosion from a nearby taxicab.

Local residents tell the Reuters news agency the blast was the worst in Kabul since the Western-supported government of Transitional Authority President Hamid Karzai came to power, following the overthrow of the Taliban last year.