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41 killed in Afghan blasts

A cluster of vehicle bombs detonated simultaneously near a foreign-owned company that plans to build a road through an insurgent-held area. At least 41 people were killed, all civilians, officials said.

world Updated: Aug 26, 2009 11:10 IST

A cluster of vehicle bombs detonated simultaneously near a foreign-owned company that plans to build a road through an insurgent-held area. At least 41 people were killed, all civilians, officials said.

The thundering explosion in the Taliban's spiritual homeland occurred just after nightfall on Tuesday in a district that includes UN facilities and an Afghan intelligence office. The force of the blast shattered windows around the city and sent flames shooting into the sky.

So many houses and nearby buildings had collapsed that officials feared the death toll could rise further. At least 66 people were wounded, said Gen Ghulam Ali Wahabat, a police commander in charge of southern Afghanistan.

"There was big smoke in the sky, and there were many dead bodies," said Mohammad Ismail, a vegetable seller being treated at the hospital for leg and hand injuries from the blast. "Some of the wounded were crying out."

It appeared the main target was the Japanese company that is involved in reconstruction efforts in the southern Afghan city. The company recently took over a contract to build a road that insurgents had stalled for several months.

An intelligence office is about 400 meters from the attack site and a UN office is located about 800 meters away.