A twin suicide bombing attack yesterday killed 23 people in a car park crammed with vehicles supplying a major NATO base in Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar, police said.
A suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck first and as a crowd gathered to help the victims a second bomber walked into their midst and set off explosives strapped to his body, provincial police chief General Abdul Raziq said.
The attack happened in a parking lot holding dozens of trucks supplying the NATO-run Kandahar Air Base and a makeshift bazaar.
Twenty-three people, all civilians, were killed and 50 others wounded, Raziq said, describing most of the victims as drivers, their assistants and workers.
“All casualties are civilians — not a single military person,” he said.
Ahmad Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial administration, gave a similar account, but said 22 people were killed.
The Kandahar Air Base is the largest NATO military base in southern Afghanistan.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but similar attacks have been blamed on the hardline Islamists trying to topple the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Taliban have in the past threatened to kill truckers working for the US-led NATO mission, which relies on civilian vehicles to supply their bases across Afghanistan.
The trucks go through complex security checks that can take days, so that dozens of trucks often mass outside bases before being allowed inside to offload their cargo.
Meanwhile, at least 15 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a NATO airstrike on a home in Logar Province south of Kabul, Afghan officials said yesterday.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said “multiple insurgents” were killed in the airstrike, which was ordered after troops came under fire from insurgents.
However, deputy provincial police chief Rais Khan Sadeq Abdulrahimzai said: “18 civilians including women and children are dead,” adding that seven Taliban insurgents were also killed.
Provincial government spokesman Din Mohammad Darvish said “around 15 civilians are dead” after the attack in the early hours of yesterday morning.
A correspondent said he saw at least 15 bodies that had been loaded into five vehicles and driven by villagers to the provincial capital of Pol-i-Alam. He said he saw four children among the bodies, one as young as a year old and the oldest about 10 years old.