A bomb targeted a senior Shia Muslim cleric in the west of Kabul on Tuesday (June 18) police said, shortly before the international military coalition marked its final handover of security to national forces.

At least three civilians were killed and 21 wounded in the blast, which is bound to fuel concern over how the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will tackle an intensifying insurgency after most foreign combat troops leave the country by the end of 2014.

The explosion happened as Mohammad Mohaqiq, a prominent Hazara politician and the country's senior Shia cleric, passed by the area in a convoy, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

Mohaqiq escaped unscathed, though several of his bodyguards were wounded, a police spokesman said.

The attack came a week after two large-scale attacks in Kabul claimed by the Taliban, with militants attacking the capital's airport on 10 June, and a suicide bomber killing at least 17 people outside the supreme court the next day.

The explosion occurred 90 minutes before hundreds of local and international officials watched a ceremony on the outskirts of the capital to mark the security handover of the final tranche of provinces and districts to Afghan control.

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