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Monday, December 27, 2010

Afghan car bomb attack

'Three die, 12 hurt in Afghan car bomb attack'

Afghan car bomb attackThree people died and 12 people were injured in a car bombing that hit Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan Monday, officials told AFP.

"Initially we received one dead body and two of the wounded died later, taking the death toll to three," said Mohammad Afzal, a doctor at the city's main hospital. He added that 12 people had been injured, mostly police.

The city's police chief, Khan Mohammad, said the explosion was a car bombing in front of a bank -- where locals said police went to collect their salaries -- and that one of the dead was a police officer.

"This was a car bomb attack which exploded next to police vehicles in front of Kabul Bank," Mohammad said.

Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan and the birthplace of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, is at the heart of a nine-year Taliban insurgency, with some 140,000 US-led international troops in the country.

It has been flooded with international troops in recent months and there is a regular stream of convoys and patrols on the streets. Local commanders say security in the city has been improved as a result.

Explaining what happened in the blast, local police officer Basir Khan told AFP: "Police had come to the bank to get their salaries and they had parked vehicles outside.

"A vehicle packed with explosives was parked next to police vehicles and it exploded."

An AFP reporter at the scene said that gunfire was heard following the blast, which shattered windows around 200 metres away. The area has since been sealed off.

A spokesman for Afghanistan's interior ministry in Kabul, Zemarai Bashary, confirmed there had been a blast but said he could not give further details.

"At this stage I can confirm there has been an explosion in Kandahar city.

"We don't know at this stage what the target of the blast was or the type of the blast," he said.

Earlier this month, four policemen and two children were injured in a car bomb close to the police headquarters in the city.

President Barack Obama announced 30,000 extra troops for Afghanistan last year as part of a surge strategy to try to turn around the conflict.

In a review of the strategy published earlier this month, Obama insisted it was on track although he stressed that gains were fragile.

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