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Afghanistan reeling after attacks kill 26

Monday's bombing in the town struck hours after another suicide blast in the nearby Kandahar killed three soldiers and a civilian.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 16:49 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Afghanistan's border town of Spin Boldak was in shock on Tuesday after one of the biggest suicide bombings since the Taliban's fall in 2001 killed 22 people leaving a wrestling match.

Monday's bombing in the town on the Pakistan border struck hours after another suicide blast in the nearby city of Kandahar killed three soldiers and a civilian.

The attacks, just one day after a Canadian diplomat and two Afghans were killed in a suicide bombing near Kandahar, added to fears that tactics used by Iraqi insurgents are being imported into Afghanistan.

Most of the shops in the commercial town of Spin Boldak, in Kandahar province, did not open for business on Tuesday as people milled around the site of the blast, which left a 20-square-metre crater in the ground.

Dozens of others rushed into the town's only clinic to identify relatives killed in the blast.

District police chief Abdul Wassey told the agency that the death toll had risen by two to 22, with at least another 27 hurt. "Personally I helped evacuate 22 people who were wounded," he said.

The attacker blew himself up in a crowd of people leaving a wrestling match in a field about a kilometre (less than a mile) from the centre of town.

"I saw a big fire and a couple of vehicles on fire and I estimate around 30 people were lying either dead or wounded," witness Ahmadullah Jan told the agency. "There were screams and blood everywhere."

Doctors at a hospital just across the border in the Pakistani town of Chaman said around 30 people were wounded, 12 of them seriously. Fifteen bodies were also brought over, doctor Abdul Nasir Achakzai said.

The Taliban, which was ousted in a US-led invasion in late 2001, denied it had carried out the attack, saying it did not target civilians.

"We strongly condemn this attack on innocent people. The Taliban leadership convey their condolences to the relatives of the victims," purported spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said.

Ahmadi had claimed responsibility on behalf of the Taliban for the Kandahar blast hours earlier.

In that attack an "explosives-laden vehicle" rammed into an Afghan National Army convoy, killing three soldiers and wounding five others, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said.

A civilian also died and 10 were wounded, a doctor said.

The attacks were the latest in a wave of more than 20 suicide bombings in the past four months aimed at US-led forces, their NATO allies and Afghan troops.

On January 5, ten people were killed and 50 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in central Uruzgan province during a visit by US ambassador Ronald Neumann.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 16:28 IST