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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2006, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
Suicide bomber strikes in Kabul
Aftermath of bombing outside Kabul interior ministry
The bomber struck as ministry staff were arriving for work
At least 12 people have died after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the interior ministry in the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials say.

An interior ministry spokesman said 42 people, including two policeman, had been injured in the blast.

The attacker detonated explosives at a busy gate outside the ministry building as staff arrived at work, police said.

It is the latest in a number of explosions in Kabul this year, despite high security in the capital.

Earlier, a health ministry spokesman said 54 people had been injured, but added that it was difficult to determine the numbers because casualties had been taken to several different hospitals.

Bodies recovered

The explosion took place shortly before 0800 local time (0330 GMT) on a narrow dirt road where interior ministry employees queue to pass through a security gate.

The BBC's Dan Isaacs at the scene says a man seen acting suspiciously was challenged by security officers, and blew up explosives as he tried to run away.

"The bomber ran into the area (past the checkpoint), and the policeman took out his gun - this all happened very fast - and then the guy detonated himself," Ahmed Ramin, 18, told the Associated press.

"We saw lots of people killed and injured on the streets."

Policeman Laal Agha told the French news agency AFP he had seen the bodies of four of his colleagues killed in the explosion.

And an interior ministry official who did not want to be named told the news agency he had pulled the bodies of three shopkeepers from shops destroyed in the blast.

School nearby

An American journalist who was at the scene minutes after the blast said the dead and injured were ferried away in buses and that there were children among the casualties.

The attack took place across the road from a school, although the children were already in their lessons when the bomber struck.

Emergency service personnel have been hosing blood from the area and sweeping away shattered glass.

A Taleban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Attacks by the militant group have been increasing in recent weeks.

In the capital earlier this month a suicide bomber struck outside the compound housing the US embassy, killing at least 16 people, two of them American soldiers.

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