Tue, Aug 04, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Bomb kills 12 in Herat ahead of Afghan elections

VIOLENCE Last month was the most violent period in the country since the NATO invasion in 2001. The attack yesterday heightened fears ahead of this month’s poll

AFP , HERAT, AFGHANISTAN

Afghan security officials examine a damaged police vehicle at the site of a bomb blast in Herat, Afghanistan, yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

A remote control bomb targeting police killed 12 people in the heart of the western city of Herat yesterday in the latest attack to hit beleaguered Afghanistan just weeks away from elections.

Another 20 people were wounded in the attack, which struck during the morning rush hour, police said. A reporter saw several police vehicles and private taxis damaged.

The attack heightened concerns that the country’s Taliban-led insurgency is spiking less than three weeks before the presidential and provincial council elections on Aug. 20. Provincial police chief Esmatullah Alizai said the blast was caused by a bomb planted in a roadside garbage can and remotely detonated.

“It exploded as the convoy of district police passed by,” he told reporters. “Twelve people have been killed in this explosion and 20 other people have been wounded. Among those killed are two police.”

A woman and a child were among the dead, he said. The police chief of the nearby district of Ingil was also wounded, the officer said. Motorcycles and bicycles lay discarded at the site, and children’s shoes and a woman’s veil were left abandoned on the ground, the reporter said. A large election billboard was burned and branches ripped off trees.

There was some police gunfire after the blast, the reporter said.

A doctor at the city’s main hospital said 29 wounded had been admitted as well as 12 bodies.

“The condition of some of the wounded is not good,” Barakatullah Mohammadi said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion.

The Taliban have carried out multiple bombings as part of an insurgency that is now the bloodiest since they were overthrown in late 2001 by a US-led invasion.

The group has called on Afghans to boycott the elections and ordered its fighters to block all roads a day before polling stations open.

Authorities said on Sunday that other insurgent attacks had killed three US and two Canadian soldiers, as well as seven Afghan policemen and soldiers.

Seventy-five foreign soldiers were killed last month, most of them in attacks, said the independent www.icasualties.org Web site, making last month the deadliest month for troops since the US-led invasion.

This has raised concerns in many of the 42 nations that contribute to the more than 100,000 NATO and US-led forces based in Afghanistan and on which the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai relies for security.

The troops have stepped up operations against insurgent strongholds in preparation for the war-scarred nation’s second presidential election, which may be called into question if unrest keeps voters away from the polls.

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