A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded market in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing 17 people and wounding 47, officials said.
The bomber walked into the market opposite a police station in Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province, said Ghulam Muheddin, the provincial governor's spokesman.
The blast killed 17 people and wounded 47, six critically, said Hanif Khan, a local hospital official. Among those injured were 15 children, Muheddin said.
Shattered glass, body parts and blood-soaked turbans were scattered across the site of the bombing, which wrecked shop fronts, said Hayatullah Khan, a security guard at the scene.
Among the dead were the owner of the market, a former Lashkar Gah police chief, his son and a nephew, he said.
The police chief was Naw Khan Noorzai, who served in the 1990s, Muheddin said.
"There was a suicide incident, but we do not know what the target was," he said.
Another official said the bomb may have exploded prematurely.
Since their overthrow in 2001, the Taliban and their Islamic allies have carried out scores of suicide attacks against Afghan and foreign forces, often killing many civilians as well.
Fighting across Afghanistan is now at its worst since 2001, mostly in the south and east bordering or near Pakistan.
About 2,000 people, mostly militants, but also civilians, aid workers, Afghan and foreign soldiers, have been killed this year.
The violence is a mix of opposition to the authorities and foreign forces, the drugs trade, tribal wars and crime.