Two bombs hidden in a motorcycle and a car exploded inside an elite gated community linked to the family of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday evening, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 70 near the southern city of Kandahar, an official said.
The blasts happened inside Aino Mina, a housing complex on the northern outskirts of the city that was developed in part by Mahmood Karzai, the president’s younger brother.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but striking inside a powerful symbol of wealth and influence would be a publicity coup for the Taliban insurgency.
Both the car bomb and the motorcycle were remotely detonated within minutes of each other while parked next to a restaurant area where families were dining, Kandahar Government spokesman Javeed Faisal said. He had earlier said there was only one blast.
Three police were among the dead, Faisal said, adding that an investigation is underway into how the explosives-laden vehicle slipped past the community’s heavy security.
Many of the dozens of wounded brought to Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar were in critical condition, Dr Samad Ahmadi said.
Aino Mina is home to thousands of Afghan government officials, businesspeople and other wealthy citizens who pay about US$90,000 for a three-bedroom house on grounds featuring parks, a jogging track, a football field and its own mosque. Residents have special identification badges and cars are typically searched before entering the gates.
Mahmood Karzai was one of the main investors in the project, promoted as a triumph of modernity in Kandahar, which is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law when it led Afghanistan for five years, before they were ousted in the US-led invasion.
The Karzai clan itself is from Kandahar and another brother of the president, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was a powerful political figure there before being gunned down in 2011 by a bodyguard.
President Karzai’s office quickly condemned the attack, noting it was the second terrorist strike in a residential area in two days. On Thursday, a suicide car bomber hit a US convoy in a residential part of eastern Kabul, killing 15 people, including nine Afghan bystanders and six Americans. That attack was claimed by another militant movement, Hizb-e-Islami.
“Terrorists, by these acts that are un-Islamic and inhumane, are not the followers of any religion,” Karzai’s statement said.
Separately, motorcycle-riding gunmen reportedly shot dead a police chief who led an anti-Taliban campaign in western Afghanistan in front of his house, am official saod. Abdul Ghani was leaving his driveway in his car when the two raced up and opened fire in Farah Province.
Provincial spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhawandai said yesterday that Ghani was rushed to hospital after the attack on Friday night but died of his wounds.
Ghani had recently launched a crackdown against insurgents that resulted in the killing and capture of several Taliban leaders. Zhawandai said the Taliban retaliated to stop him.
Afghan security forces and government officials are targeted by the Taliban to weaken the government of Hamid Karzai ahead of the planned withdrawal of most international troops by the end of next year.