NEW: NATO's International Security Assistance Force condemns the attack
The bombing, which also was near the U.S. Embassy, injures 39
Women and children were among the casualties
The bombing comes as the Taliban have stepped up the fight against the coalition
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s suicide blast outside the Afghan Supreme Court, a brazen attack in the heart of Kabul that killed 17 people and wounded 39.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement e-mailed to media that government judges are oppressing and mistreating people in several parts of the country.
The blast, which occurred near the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday afternoon, comes amid the Taliban’s spring offensive against Afghan government and coalition targets.
A bomber in a Toyota Corolla targeted a convoy of minibuses on their way out of the court compound to drop off staffers at their homes, said Hashmat Stanikzai, a spokesman for the city’s police chief.
Deputy Police Chief Dawood Amin said two women and three children were among the 17 people slain. Eight women were among those injured, Amin said.
The Taliban statement said the militants had been following Supreme Court judges and high-ranking staff members for a long time before they launched the attack.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force condemned the attack.
“Once again the enemies of Afghanistan have demonstrated a complete lack of respect for human life,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the ISAF commander. “The targeting of hard working Afghans on their way home from work is reprehensible.”
The bomb detonated near Masoud Circle and “was designed to cause the maximum number of civilian casualties,” the ISAF said.
“There’s no other way to explain it. The extremists deliberately detonated a powerful bomb among a crowd of innocent Afghan civilians,” Dunford said.
Insurgents have carried out many attacks across the country this spring. So far, at least 18 coalition soldiers have died in June.
Reports surfaced Monday of Taliban militants beheading two children in Kandahar province, acts that the militant group has denied.
On Monday, Taliban fighters armed with guns and explosives clashed with security forces after taking over a building near the airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital. The fighting ended with all seven attackers dead, Afghan officials said.
Last month, a suicide car bombing on a coalition convoy in central Kabul killed at least 12 people, six of them American and six Afghan. The insurgent group Hezb-e Islami claimed responsibility for that attack. The group is not under the Taliban leadership, but operates alongside them.