Afghan civilians targeted in wave of attacks

Grenades launched at mosque and US base in Khost just hours after triple bombing killed 55 people in Nimroz province.

At least nine people in eastern Afghanistan have been wounded in a grenade attack, a day after 55 Afghans died in a triple suicide bombing in the country’s southwest.

The target of Wednesday’s attack was not immediately clear, but the grenades were launched in a location near both a mosque and a US military base at 6am.

Sardar Mohammad Zazai, the police chief of Khost province, told the Associated Press news agency that the three grenades were thrown into the mosque during morning prayers.

“It cannot be a private dispute. Why would anyone be so angry to throw grenades in a mosque while people are praying”, Zazai said of the attack he blamed on “the enemy”, a term often used by Afghan officials to describe the Taliban.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing they said took place on Wednesday in a military base in the province, but made no mention of the grenades.

In the west of the country, a bicycle bomb in Herat city left at least 18 people, including three women injured Wednesday afternoon.

As with the attacks in Nimroz, the Herat attacks were near the city centre in an area crowded with locals shopping for the upcoming Eid holiday.

Wednesday’s attacks came hours after at least 55 people were killed in a series of bombings on Tuesday, including an attack where three suicide bombers detonated their explosives in the country’s southwest.

Crowded markets

The explosions in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, along the Iranian border, killed at least 36, including 10 policemen, and left about 120 people wounded on Tuesday.

“The attackers blew themselves up in crowded markets to target civilians, there was no government installation nearby,” provincial governor Abdul Karim Barahawi told the Reuters news agency.

Three suicide attackers out of an original group of 11 blew themselves up in separate areas of the city, one outside a hospital, police said.

“This was a group of 11 attackers who wanted to conduct simultaneous attacks across the city,” deputy provincial police chief Mujibullah Latifi told the AFP news agency.

Two of the attackers were killed by security forces Monday night. Three others had been detained Tuesday morning.

“Three managed to detonate themselves while three others were gunned down,” Latifi said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but similar attacks are usually blamed on the Taliban, fighting to overthrow the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul on Tuesday’s attacks, said they “mark[ed] the deadliest day for Afghan civilians so far this year”.

Nimroz is a relatively peaceful province but it has seen an increase in violence recently.

A bomb also detonated in a market in the northern province of Kunduz, killing 10 people and injuring 36 others.

The explosion, which killed several children, went off just as shoppers were heading home for the meal ending the Ramadan fast.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, who was in Saudi Arabia for a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, strongly condemned the attacks saying the targeting of “fast-observing Muslims is clear animosity against Islam, whose perpetrators will achieve nothing but public abhorrence and severe torment in the court of Almighty Allah”.

In Badakhshan province, the district government chief and four tribal elders were killed in an ambush. In Helmand province, another four tribal elders were killed in the Musa Qala district by a roadside bomb.

Four children were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device in southeastern Paktika province.

The aim of the string of attacks, said our correspondent, was to “undermine Afghan confidence in security. These devestating bombings across the country in a very, very busy week are a big blow to any sense of security Afghans have”, especially in an area as unlikely as Nimroz.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies