March 25, 2015 / 2:33 PM / 2 years ago

Six killed in suicide bomb near Afghan presidential palace

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul March 25, 2015. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

KABUL (Reuters) - Six people were killed and more than 30 wounded in a suicide bombing in Kabul on Wednesday that struck close to the presidential palace in the heart of the Afghan capital, the Interior Ministry said.

The suicide bomber had been traveling in a vehicle packed with explosives and it was not immediately clear what the target of the attack had been.

“It was a suicide attack and I saw someone lose a limb and another person lose a hand,” said Mohammad Tahir, a driver, whose hands were covered in blood as he fled the area.

The blast interrupted a period of relative peace in the city, after a bomb targeted an influential provincial police chief visiting Kabul from Uruzgan province last week.

The capital and strategic provinces across the country are on high alert ahead of the expected start of the yearly Taliban spring offensive.

The militant group ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 is waging an insurgency against the Afghan government and its foreign backers. It did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack and a spokesman could not be reached by phone.

The attack was swiftly condemned by President Ashraf Ghani, who is currently on his first trip to the United States, in a statement released from his office.

As expected, U.S. president Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his decision to agree to an Afghan request to slow the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan. The United States will maintain a force of 9,800 through to the end of 2015, while sticking to a 2017 exit plan.

Almost 3,700 civilians were killed and more than 6,800 were wounded in the conflict last year as fighting intensified and foreign troops withdrew, formally ending their combat role in December last year.

Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Dominic Evans

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