A car packed with explosives has detonated as it was passing by a crowded market in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Paktika, killing at least 89 people and wounding dozens more, police said.
“Right now, police are taking all the wounded to hospitals,” a local deputy police chief, Nissar Ahmad Abdulrahimzai, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
The attack took place not far from the border with Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, where the military has been attacking hideouts of the Pakistani Taliban in the past few weeks, prompting rebels to retreat towards Afghanistan.
Abdulrahimzai said police had been tipped about the car and were chasing it when it exploded.
Civilian Deaths and Injuries January – June (2009-2014)
Year Deaths Injuries
2009 1052 1439
Casualties by tactic and incident type (January -June 2014)
“The explosion was so big it destroyed many shops. Dozens of people are trapped under the roofs,” Mohammad Raza Kharoti, the district governor, told Reuters.
“The number of wounded will rise to more than 100 and the number of those martyred will also increase.”
In Kabul, a remote control bomb concealed by a roadside killed two employees of President Hamid Karzai’s media office and wounded five others, police said.
Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, said Karzaid has condemned the attacks. Among those who were hurt was the personal cameraman of the outgoing president.
It was reported earlier that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
But the movement’s leader denied it saying the group does not target
“The truth behind this attack will become clear after an investigation, but we clearly announce that it was not done by the Mujahedeen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,”
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said: “The Mujahedeen do not conduct such attacks and such attacks do not bring any benefit to them.”
The attacks took place as foreign troops are gradually withdrawing from the country.
The United Nations said last week civilian casualties jumped by almost a quarter in the first half of this year as hostilities escalate.
“The nature of the conflict in Afghanistan is changing in 2014 with an escalation of ground engagements in civilian-populated areas,” said Jan Kubis, head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
“The impact on civilians, including the most vulnerable Afghans, is proving to be devastating.”
The UN report documenting civilian causalities between January and June states that there were 4,853 civilian casualties, up 24 per cent over the same period in 2013.
“Included in the toll were 1,564 civilian deaths and 3,289 injuries, up 17 and 28 per cent from the same time period last year, respectively. Ground engagements caused two of every five civilian casualties in 2014 accounting for 39 per cent of all civilian casualties,” the report said.