Blast kills 12, hurts 42 in Afghanistan

Kabul, September 30 :

A suicide bomber killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 40, many just arriving for work, in a busy pedestrian alley next to Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry today, officials said.

The blast was the second major suicide attack in Kabul this month, underscoring the dangers creeping into the once relatively calm capital as militants step up attacks across the country.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said the bombing killed 12 people, including two women and a child, and wounded 42.

Dr Salam Jalali, a Public Health Ministry official, said 54 had been hurt. He said the wounded had been taken to six different Kabul hospitals, complicating officials’ efforts to keep track of the casualties.

The explosion happened just before 8 a.m. near a narrow dirt road where employees and civilians pass through a security gate. Shops, roadside photographers, and men who fill

out Interior Ministry paperwork for illiterate Afghans give the busy area a cross-section of commerce and government workers.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the blast and said that “suicide attackers come from outside Afghanistan and target the most devoted and the poorest Muslim people of the world.” “I condemn it in the strongest terms and call on the international community to work with Afghanistan in stopping sanctuaries that raise, train and brainwash young people to become suicide attackers,” Karzai said in a statement.

The top UN official in the country also condemned the “callous attack against innocent Afghans who were simply going to work.” Saturday is a work day in Afghanistan.

“It is wrong for any conflict to be played out in a civilian arena with such wanton disregard for so many innocent lives,” said Tom Koenigs, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Bashary said the suicide attacker had been acting suspiciously, then had tried to get near a gathering of people just beyond a police checkpoint.

“The police warned him to stop, and then he detonated himself,” said Bashary. A witness said he saw the bomber run from police, who had tried to search him. “The bomber ran into the area (past the checkpoint), and the policeman took out his gun — this all happened very fast — and then the guy detonated himself,” said Ahmed Ramin, 18. “We saw lots of people killed and injured on the streets.”

Border meets :

KABUL: President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that he and Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf will jointly lead a series of tribal gatherings along their countries’ shared border to quell attacks on Afghanistan by Pakistan-based Taliban rebels.

Karzai said he made the request during a White House dinner on Wednesday with Musharraf and US President George W Bush. Musharraf agreed, Karzai said. He gave no time frame for the gatherings. The two presidents will seek ways to employ armed tribesmen on

both sides of the border to stabilize the region and cut down on insurgent raids, Karzai said. “If our efforts fail again, we’ll keep looking for new ways until we succeed,” Karzai said. — AP