Four suicide bombers blew themselves up at a US-run development base in northern Afghanistan yesterday, killing two men in the first suicide attack to hit the once-peaceful region in 10 years of war.
The bombers targeted the US Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) facility in Rokha District, Panjshir Province, killing two drivers and leaving two guards wounded, provincial police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh said.
Underscoring the violence being wrought on once-tranquil parts of the country after a decade of war, police and the governor’s office confirmed that it was the first suicide attack in the Panjshir valley since the war began.
Security for the ethnic Tajik-dominated area once ruled by guerrilla hero Ahmad Shah Massoud was handed over from Western troops to Afghans in July.
“An explosion which targeted the PRT in Panjshir left two drivers dead and two guards of the PRT wounded,” Jangalbagh said.
He said the drivers had been delivering fuel supplies to the base when it came under attack.
“The first suicide attacker detonated his explosives inside his four-wheel drive vehicle while the other three reached the PRT gate and exploded themselves,” he said. “The Americans are inside their base and the bodies of the suicide attackers lie at the gate of the PRT.”
NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Christopher Pewitt confirmed the incident, but had no record of fatalities.
“We can confirm a suicide attack on the PRT early this morning in Panjshir. There were no casualties to ISAF. Civilians were injured in the blast,” he said, without giving further details.
Violence across the country has risen by about 40 percent in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to UN figures that are disputed by ISAF.
ISAF claims instead that attacks were down 2 percent over the same period.
Elsewhere yesterday, two Taliban insurgents died and three others were wounded when mines they were assembling exploded in the restive southern province of Kandahar, senior local officials said.
The men were making the bombs in a tent in Dand District, provincial government spokesman Zulmai Ayoubi said.
“As a result of the explosion two were killed and three wounded,” he said, adding that the toll could rise.
“They were killed by their own mines,” Kandahar police chief Abdul Razeq confirmed.
Roadside bombs are the weapon of choice for the Taliban, whose 10-year insurgency has largely focused on the southern heartland.
The UN has said 1,462 civilians were killed in the first half of this year, with insurgents responsible for 80 percent of the deaths.
There are 140,000 foreign forces in Afghanistan, about 100,000 of them from the US, fighting to reverse the Taliban-led insurgency.
All combat troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014 when Afghan forces take over full responsibility for security, although thousands are likely to remain in training and mentoring roles.
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