KABUL: An Afghan military general said that nearly 90 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded in a massive suicide car bombing in the country’s eastern Paktika province on Tuesday. The bomber drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a congested market and a mosque in the Urgun district.
In the meantime, President Hamid Karzai in a statement strongly condemned the suicide bombing in Paktika, regarding it as a brutal and inhumane act of foes of Afghanistan. “The killing of civilians during the holy month of Ramadan is an unforgivable deed,” he said, while extending his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the bereaved families and prayed for rapid recovery of the wounded. President Karzai ordered authorities to deliver necessary aid to the families of the victims.
Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman said the military is using its helicopters and ambulances to transport the victims to the provincial capital, Sharan. Azimi said 42 people were wounded in the explosion and some 20 shops were destroyed. The Afghan troops had recovered 89 bodies from the rubble. “Our soldiers are still trying to recover bodies. Almost all of the shops have fallen.” Most of the 89 bodies recovered from the rubble were women and children, according to Gen. Azimi, who said Afghan soldiers were busy looking for survivors. He added 42 injured people had been evacuated to hospital.
According to Malim Raza Kharotai, the district’s administrative chief, the blast occurred at a peak hour when hordes of locals were out for shopping. Most of the dead were shopkeepers and civilians, he added. The district chief feared the causalities could surge because many of the wounded were struggling for life. Sources in the civil hospital said that 70 injured people had been brought to the medical facility.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly bombing in the district that lies near Pakistan’s restive tribal region of Waziristan — currently the scene of a full-scale military offensive. The bombing was the first major attack since a weekend deal between the two Afghan presidential contenders brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry averted a dangerous rift in the country’s troubled democracy.
The Paktika bombing took place hours after a roadside bomb ripped through a minivan carrying employees of the presidential palace in eastern Kabul, killing two passengers. The explosion struck as the vehicle was taking the palace staffers, said Gul Agha Hashimi, the chief of criminal investigations with the Kabul police.