Twin suicide attack on NATO Afghan base kills 12
KABUL - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoTen civilians and two police were killed and dozens more were wounded Saturday in a Taliban twin suicide attack targeting a US-run military base in central Afghanistan, officials said.
The first bombing was carried out by a militant on foot, followed by a huge blast from a truck bomb that destroyed much of a local bazaar near the military outpost in Wardak province's Sayedabad district, police said.
"The number of wounded is so high that it can hardly be counted. Lots of people have been wounded and much of the Sayedabad bazaar has been destroyed," Wardak police spokesman Abdul Wali told AFP.
Ghulam Farouq Mukhlis, the provincial public health director, told AFP that at least 43 civilians were admitted to local hospitals. Ten people were evacuated to the capital Kabul for "serious injuries", Mukhlis added.
A Western military official close to the NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) who spoke anonymously told AFP that two ISAF soldiers were wounded in the blasts.
"There were no ISAF fatalities," an ISAF spokesman told AFP separately, confirming the twin blast.
Shahidullah Shahid a spokesman for the provincial administration confirmed the attack, describing the truck-bombing as "massive".
"A suicide bomber on foot detonated near the gate of the base in Sayedabad, Wardak province, opening the way for a truck suicide bombing that followed him," Shahid told AFP.
Sayedabad is an insurgency-plagued region and the base there was attacked in a truck bombing in September last year. More than 80 people, about 50 of them US soldiers, were wounded in that attack.
A witness said a small bazaar near the base, which is located along a highway that links capital Kabul to the southern province of Kandahar, was "totally destroyed" by Saturday's explosion.
Afghan and Western troops blocked the road after the blasts for more than an hour, causing traffic jams along the busy highway, the witness, who refused to give his name, told AFP. "They were huge explosions, very big," he said.
Many civilians work on or near NATO bases and bazaars.
Zabihullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the Taliban insurgents, claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message to AFP.
The United Nations says 1,145 civilians were killed and 1,954 wounded in the war in the first six months of this year, with the world body blaming 80 percent of the deaths on insurgents.
NATO has some 130,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban's decade-long insurgency alongside government forces.
Most of the NATO troops are set to withdraw by the end of 2014 in a US-designed transition process that will put Afghan security forces in charge of security for their war-battered country.
The process is already under way with security responsibilities of about half of the Afghan population transferred to the local security forces.
The Taliban have stepped up their attacks in recent months as part of efforts by the insurgency to undermine the transition process.