KABUL, Afghanistan – A Taliban suicide bomber in a black overcoat and carrying an umbrella as a shelter against the heavy snow crossed a street in Kabul on Wednesday toward a bus filled with Afghan soldiers, where he laid down and slithered underneath.
A witness said the attacker then detonated his explosives, engulfing the undercarriage of the bus in flames. The bomber was killed, and at least 10 people – six soldiers and four civilians – were wounded, according to the Kabul police chief's office.
The bombing – the second attempted strike in the capital this week – was a reminder of the Taliban insurgency's ability to hit the Afghan government even with about 100,000 international troops helping secure the country.
The Afghan government uses buses to ferry soldiers, police and office workers into the city center for work every day. These vehicles, which run regular routes, have been a common target for insurgents.
Soldiers were about to board the bus when the attacker slid underneath and detonated his vest, said Ahmad Shakib, who saw the attack unfold from across the street.
Shakib said the attacker did not rush but moved purposefully across the snowy street. When the man started to push himself under the bus, Shakib thought at first he was a driver's assistant trying to fix something.
"I thought to myself, 'What is this crazy man doing?' And then there was a blast and flames,'" Shakib said. "It was a very loud explosion. I still cannot really hear."
The owner of a nearby bakery said that six people who were waiting outside his shop to buy bread were wounded. The windows of Mirza Khan's bakery also shattered.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing in a text message to The Associated Press.
The attack comes three days after a would-be car bomber was shot dead by police in downtown Kabul. That assailant was driving a vehicle packed with explosives and officials said he appeared to be targeting an intelligence agency office nearby.