Suicide bomb in southern Afghanistan kills 20
KABUL — A powerful suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan early Thursday morning, killing 20 people and wounding 97 others, according to the province’s governor, while a deadly drone strike in the country’s east was blamed on U.S. forces.
The Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, have carried out nearly daily attacks since peace talks with the United States collapsed earlier this month.
Thursday’s massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.
Local residents, many of whom had come to see their sick family members, used shawls and blankets to carry the wounded inside the destroyed building, while authorities scrambled to take the worst of the wounded to hospitals in nearby Kandahar.
Hours earlier, a drone attack in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province blamed on U.S. forces killed at least 16 and wounded tens of others, most of them civilians, said Jawaid Zaman, presidential adviser on tribal affairs.
The U.S. forces in Afghanistan said they carried out a strike in eastern Nangarhar targeting Islamic State positions in the area.
“We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts,” said Col. Sonny Legget, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.
Angry residents of the area where the strike occurred carried 12 of the bodies to the provincial capital Jalalabad Thursday morning protesting the attack, said provincial council head Ahmad Ali Hazrat. Many more people are believed to be missing.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, also said the target was Islamic State group militants who are in the area.
But according to Zaman the local residents had provided prior notice to the local authorities that they would be collecting dried fruit. As many as 50 people were in the fields when the aerial attack occurred, he said.