Dozens killed in Afghanistan fighting as foreign troops head home

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban killed a Supreme Court official, a dozen mine clearers and several national and foreign soldiers but also suffered heavy losses from intensifying violence ahead of the withdrawal of most international troops in the next two weeks.

In Kabul yesterday, a bomb ripped through a bus carrying soldiers in Kabul, killing at least seven of them, mangling the vehicle and sending a column of black smoke over the capital.

“A suicide bomber on foot detonated his explosives at the door of a bus carrying army soldiers,” said Hashmat Stanekzai, a spokesman for Kabul police chief.

Earlier gunmen shot dead senior Supreme Court official Atiqullah Raoufi as he left his home in the city.

The Taliban, ousted from power by US-backed Afghan forces in 2001, claimed responsibility, but did not say why it had killed him. The hardline Islamist insurgents run their own courts in parts of the country and consider the official judiciary to be corrupt.

Heavily fortified Kabul has seen multiple attacks in recent weeks, including several on army buses and a suicide bomb that killed a German citizen in a French cultural centre during a performance of a play that denounced suicide attacks.

Fatalities and injuries among Afghan security forces and civilians peaked this year to the highest point since the US-led war began in 2001, as foreign forces rapidly withdrew most of their troops from the interior of mountainous nation.

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