At Least 89 Dead in Largest Suicide Blast in Afghanistan This Year


At least 89 people have been killed in a suicide car bombing in the Afghan province of Paktika, which borders Pakistan. Voice of America reports:

The district governor, Mohammad Reza Kharuti, told VOA that rescue workers were still trying to retrieve bodies and transport the wounded to local hospitals.

The governor says the massive explosion destroyed around 50 shops on both sides of the road while up to 20 vehicles were also damaged. He added that many of the victims were buried under the rubble.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the military is providing helicopters and ambulances to transport those seriously injured to the provincial capital, Sharan.

The Taliban in Afghanistan denied responsibility for the bombing, reportedly saying that "such attacks do not bring any benefit to them".

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), civilian deaths are on the rise (PDF). The death toll is up 16 percent from the first six months of last year with more women and children falling victim. UNAMA also said it "observed a direct correlation between closures [of foreign military bases] and a rise in civilian casualties in some areas – particularly from ground engagements."

President Obama announced earlier this year that this year's long-time-coming withdrawal from Afghanistan won't be complete. The U.S. plans on leaving about 10,000 U.S. troops behind, to prevent Al Qaeda from reorganizing in the country.