Fri, Sep 20, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Suicide bomb in Afghanistan kills 20, drone kills 16

AP, KABUL

Damaged vehicles are pictured at the site of a bomb attack in Qalat, Afghanistan, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

A powerful suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan early yesterday morning, killing 20 people and wounding 97, while a deadly drone strike in the country’s east was blamed on US forces.

The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, has carried out nearly daily attacks since peace talks with the US collapsed earlier this month.

The massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul Province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.

Local residents, many of whom had come to see sick family members, used shawls and blankets to carry the wounded inside the destroyed building, while authorities scrambled to take the worst of the wounded to hospitals in nearby Kandahar.

Hours earlier, a drone attack in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province blamed on US forces killed at least 16 and wounded tens of others, most of them civilians, said Jawaid Zaman, presidential adviser on tribal affairs.

The US forces in Afghanistan said that they carried out a strike in eastern Nangarhar targeting Islamic State positions in the area.

“We are aware of allegations of the death of noncombatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts,” US forces spokesman Colonel Sonny Legget said.

Angry residents of the area where the strike occurred carried 12 bodies to the provincial capital, Jalalabad, to protest the attack, provincial council head Ahmad Ali Hazrat said.

Many more people are believed to be missing.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, also said that the target was Islamic State group militants who were in the area.

However, Zaman said that the local residents had provided prior notice to local authorities that they would be collecting dried fruit.

As many as 50 people were in the fields when the attack occurred, he said.

Meanwhile in Zabul, Governor Rahmatullah Yarmal said that the death toll from the suicide attack was 20, with many of the 97 injured in a critical condition.

There were contradictory figures of the dead and wounded in the hours after the suicide truck bombing.

Morning prayers had just finished when worshipers were stunned by the ear-splitting blast that destroyed parts of a mosque adjacent to the hospital and the hospital building, Qalat resident Mahboob Hakimi said.

Windows in his home nearly 2km away were shattered by the blast, he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said on Twitter that the target was a nearby intelligence office, which he claimed was destroyed and “tens of intelligence operatives killed/wounded.”

Provincial council chief Atta Jan Haqbayan said that the wall of a Afghan National Directorate of Security building was damaged.

He could not say whether any personnel were among the casualties.

Yarmal said that many of the dead and wounded were women and children.

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