Suicide blast kills 89 at market in Afghanistan

A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The explosion destroyed dozens of mud-brick shops, flipped cars over and stripped trees of their branches, brutally underscoring the country’s instability as U.S. troops prepare to leave by the end of the year and politicians in Kabul struggle for power after a disputed presidential runoff.

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defence Ministry spokesman, said the bomber detonated his explosives as he drove by the crowded market in a remote town in Urgun district, in the Paktika province bordering Pakistan.

Azimi gave the death toll and said more than 40 other people were wounded. The military supplied helicopters and ambulances to take the victims to the hospital, he said, adding that the explosion destroyed more than 20 shops and dozens of vehicles.

Associated Press video footage of the aftermath showed mounds of twisted debris and the charred shells of cars flipped over on top of one another.

Many of the victims were buried under the rubble, said Mohammad Reza Kharoti, administrative chief of Urgun district.

“It was a very brutal suicide attack against poor civilians,” he said. “There was no military base nearby.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, and the Taliban issued a statement denying involvement, saying they “strongly condemn attacks on local people.” Several other insurgent groups operate in Afghanistan.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said initial reports “suggest that the attacker prematurely detonated after police detected the explosives in his vehicle.”

“Today’s appalling attack during Ramadan — an occasion that should be observed in a spirit of peace and compassion — should be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” said Jan Kubis, the U.N. representative to Afghanistan.

It was the deadliest insurgent attack against civilians since violence rose after the U.S. invasion that ousted the Taliban in 2001. It exceeded the toll of twin bombings on Dec. 6, 2011, that targeted Shiite Muslims and killed 80 people in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif.

It was also 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 following last month’s disputed runoff.

“People were shocked, and we are shocked, but this is the sad reality of Afghanistan,” one of the candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, told The Associated Press in an interview.

Unofficial results from the runoff showed former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead, but Abdullah’s supporters say that is only because of widespread fraud.

Since fraud was alleged on both sides, the deal provides that every one of the 8 million ballots will be audited under national and international supervision over the next three or four weeks.

Neither the election nor the weekend deal has had any visible effect on security in the country, which has long seen near-daily attacks.

The United Nations said last week that civilian deaths are up 17 per cent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2013, with 1,564 civilians killed from January through June.

Hours before the Paktika blast, a roadside bomb in Kabul ripped through a minivan carrying seven employees of the media office of the presidential palace, killing two of the passengers. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Also, seven police officers, including a district counter-terrorism director, and six border guards were killed when Taliban insurgents attacked a post on the border with Pakistan in the eastern Khost province, said Mubariz Mohammad Zadran, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Zadran said the attack set off an hours-long gunbattle that left 34 insurgents and a local man dead.

Just Posted

A lesson in excellence and success

Mary Kemmis, president of the Prairie Division of Black Press Media, and… Continue reading

Gravel operations could cloud pristine trout stream, say conservationists

Border Paving proposes to excavate below the waterline near the Raven Rriver

Alberta government firing election commissioner who was investigating leadership

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government is firing the province’s election commissioner,… Continue reading

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

Some Canadian universities are urging their exchange students in Hong Kong to… Continue reading

First-time novelist Ian Williams wins $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize

TORONTO — First-time novelist Ian Williams singled out a special member of… Continue reading

Central Albertans help families during holidays with Christmas Wish Breakfast

It takes a community to help a community. And Sunday morning at… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Nov. 19 The Mountview Sunnybrook Community Association will hold its AGM at… Continue reading

Opinion: The buck stops with Red Deer city council

Red Deer city council has taken measures to distance itself from decisions… Continue reading

Alberta government firing election commissioner who was investigating leadership

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government is firing the province’s election commissioner,… Continue reading

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

Some Canadian universities are urging their exchange students in Hong Kong to… Continue reading

First-time novelist Ian Williams wins $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize

TORONTO — First-time novelist Ian Williams singled out a special member of… Continue reading

Campus under siege as Hong Kong police battle protesters

HONG KONG — Police tightened their siege of a university campus where… Continue reading

US angers Palestinians with reversal on Israeli settlements

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday said it no longer considers… Continue reading

Pence aide’s testimony renews focus on VP’s Ukraine role

WASHINGTON — He knew nothing about the Ukrainian backchannel, his aides say.… Continue reading

Most Read