Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017.
KABUL, Afghanistan – A suicide bomber on Wednesday killed at least 26 people, many of them teenagers, in front of Kabul University, officials said, as Afghans took to the streets to celebrate the Persian new year holiday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly attack -- the fifth suicide bombing in the Afghan capital in recent weeks -- but the Taliban denied involvement on Twitter.
Another 18 people were wounded in the blast, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said, "all of them civilians".
At least 26 martyred in suicide bomb attack near Shia Hazara shrine in Kabul&39;s Karta-e-Sakhi neighborhood as the victims were celebrating Persian new year. Nowruz— Asfandyar Bhittani (@BhittaniKhannnn) March 21, 2018
No one has claimed responsibility yet pic.twitter.com/jwt7MnzFN6
A suicide attacker on foot detonated himself in front of a hospital, Rahimi said. The hospital is opposite Kabul University.
The bomber was less than 200 metres from Karte Sakhi shrine where many Afghans gather every year to mark Nawrooz, which is the traditional Persian new year holiday.
The same shrine was attacked in October 2016 when Islamic State gunmen killed 18 people gathered to mark Ashura, an important date for many Muslims, especially Shiites.
A man who was standing metres from where the explosion happened told Tolo News that he saw "at least four bodies in blood" on the ground.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault but Taliban and Islamic State militants have increasingly targeted the war-weary city in recent months.
The blast comes days after a Taliban suicide attacker blew up a bomb-laden car in the Afghan capital, causing multiple casualties.
The Taliban faces growing pressure to take up a recent offer by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of peace talks to end the 16-year war. So far it has given only a muted response.