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Death toll in Kabul suicide attack rises to 48

An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 48 people including women and children and wounded 112 outside a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul today, officials said.

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Death toll in Kabul suicide attack rises to 48
A woman cries at a hospital after she lost her son in a suicide attack on a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 22, 2018.
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An Islamic State suicide bomber killed 48 people including women and children and wounded 112 outside a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul today, officials said.

"They are civilians, including women and children," said interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

The assaults underscore growing concerns about security in the lead-up to legislative elections scheduled for October 20, which are seen as a test-run for next year's presidential poll.

"It happened at the entrance gate of the centre. It was a suicide attack," Dawood Amin, city police chief, told AFP.

The centre in the heavily Shiite-populated neighbourhood in the west of the city was also being used by people to register for national identification certificates, which they need to sign up to vote.

Footage on Ariana TV showed pools of blood and shattered glass on the street.

Angry crowds shouted "Death to the government!" and "Death to the Taliban!" There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The Taliban have denied they were involved.

A wounded man in a hospital bed wept as he told Ariana TV: "I don't know where my daughters are. God damn the attackers!" A witness to the attack named Akbar told Tolo TV: "Now we know the government cannot provide us security: we have to get armed and protect ourselves." Photos posted on social media purportedly of the scene showed several bodies on the ground and a badly damaged two-storey building.

Afghanistan began registering voters on April 14 for the long-delayed legislative elections.

Officials have acknowledged that security is a major concern as the Taliban and other militant groups control or contest large swathes of the country.

Afghan police and troops have been tasked with protecting polling centres, even as they struggle to get the upper hand against insurgents on the battlefield.

The Taliban are under pressure to take up President Ashraf Ghani's peace offer made in February, but so far the group has given only a muted response.

Some Western and Afghan officials expect 2018 to be a particularly bloody year.

General John Nicholson, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, told Tolo TV last month that he expected the Taliban to carry out more suicide attacks this fighting season.

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