Afghan sui­cide bomb kills 16, dozens hurt

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY KHAN MO­HAM­MAD

A sui­cide bomber killed at least 16 peo­ple Thurs­day and wounded 40 oth­ers, in­clud­ing a prom­i­nent law­maker, at an anti- cor­rup­tion rally in eastern Afghanistan, the lat­est ca­su­al­ties ahead of the Tal­iban’s ex­pected spring of­fen­sive.

The attack comes just a week af­ter Wash­ing­ton an­nounced it would not be halv­ing the 9,800 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan by the end of the year, backpedalling on pre­vi­ous plans.

The Tal­iban, wag­ing a deadly in­sur­gency since they were ousted from power in late 2001, warned that the U.S. troop an­nounce­ment would dam­age any prospects of peace talks as they vowed to con­tinue fight­ing.

Thurs­day’s attack tar­geted an anti-graft demon­stra­tion out­side the res­i­dence of the act­ing gover­nor of restive Khost prov­ince, send­ing ter­ri­fied, blood- soaked vic­tims flee­ing for cover.

Sev­ered limbs and body parts lay strewn around the area af­ter the pow­er­ful blast, ac­cord­ing to an AFP re­porter at the scene.

The area was cor­doned off by se­cu­rity of­fi­cials as yel­lowhel­meted fire­fight­ers used wa­ter hoses to douse the smol­der­ing scene of the ex­plo­sion.

“To­day morn­ing, a sui­cide attack was car­ried out by the enemies of peace and sta­bil­ity of Afghanistan at a rally in the city of Khost, in which 16 peo­ple were mar­tyred, and 40 oth­ers were wounded,” said Ab­dul­jabar Naeemi, the act­ing gover­nor of Khost prov­ince, which bor­ders Pak­istan.

Hu­may­oun Hu­may­oun, a well­known MP from Khost prov­ince, was among those wounded, Naeemi added in his state­ment.

The in­te­rior min­istry in Kabul said 17 civil­ians were killed and 37 oth­ers were wounded in the ex­plo­sion, adding that it “strongly con­demns the ter­ror-

ist attack.”

‘Cow­ardly attack’

Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani also con­demned the “cow­ardly attack dur­ing a peace­ful protest — which is the civil right of our peo­ple.”

Pro­test­ers ac­cus­ing Naeemi of ram­pant cor­rup­tion and land grab­bing have staged demon­stra­tions out­side his res­i­dence for nearly a week.

The Tal­iban de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for the blast, spokesman Zabi­hul- lah Mu­jahid said on the group’s of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count, but sui­cide bomb­ings have long been a weapon of choice for the mil­i­tants in their 13-year battle against the gov­ern­ment and its for­eign back­ers.

The bombs of­ten tar­get Afghan se­cu­rity forces, but they have also taken a heavy toll on civil­ians.

The num­ber of civil­ians killed and wounded in Afghanistan jumped 22 per­cent in 2014, a re­cent U.N. re­port said, as NATO troops with­drew from com­bat.

AP

Afghan men in­spect the site of a sui­cide attack that killed more than 16 in Khost City, Afghanistan on Thurs­day, April 2.

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