Bomb attack kills at least 8 Afghans
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan |
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A bomb attached to a bicycle exploded in a busy market in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least eight people and wounding 38, an Afghan official said.
Earlier reports from Helmand province said a suicide bomber on foot had caused the blast, close to a group of local officials handing out seeds to villagers as part of a programme to dissuade people from growing opium poppy.
Zemarai Bashary, spokesman for the interior ministry in Kabul, said eight people were killed in Nahr-e-Saraj district, also referred to as Gereshk. He said the death toll could rise.
Bashary said the bomb was attached to a bicycle parked in the a market packed with villagers, a popular spot for family picnics.
"It was the bazaar day. In rural areas there are two days in the week when people have bazaars and one of them is Wednesday .. It seems the bicycle was parked in the market, it may have been a remote-controlled bomb, but we cannot be certain," he said.
A NATO official and a spokesman for the provincial governor in Helmand said 13 people had been killed and 40 to 45 others were wounded. President Hamid Karzai's palace also put the death toll at 13.
The NATO official said a military helicopter had flown out wounded Afghans from the scene, some of whom later died of their injuries.
In the past, the Taliban have claimed responsibility for many suicide attacks in Afghanistan, where they lead an insurgency against Afghan and foreign forces.
Last year, according to the United Nations, a record number of civilians were killed in the war, most in insurgent bomb attacks.
In February, thousands of U.S. Marines led an offensive against the Taliban in Helmand, targeting the town of Marjah in NATO's largest operation in Afghanistan to date. (Reporting by Ismail Sameem in KANDAHAR and Sayed Salahuddin and Golnar Motevalli in KABUL; Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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