At least 17 killed in Afghan market blast

A suspected suicide bomber killed at least 17 people and wounded almost 50 in a crowded bazaar in southern Afghanistan on Monday, the latest attack in a surge of violence in the Taliban heartland.

Several children were among those killed or hurt in the blast in Lashkar Gah, capital of the country’s prime drug-growing province of Helmand.

The head of the city’s emergency hospital, Rahmatullah, said at least 47 people were wounded, all of them civilians.

One of those killed was Naw Khan Noorzai, provincial police chief in the 1990s, Helmand government spokesperson Mahaiuddin said.

“There was a suicide incident, but we do not know what the target was,” he said. Another official said the bomb may have exploded prematurely.

Since their overthrow in 2001, the Taliban and their Islamic allies have carried out scores of suicide attacks against Afghan and foreign forces, often killing many civilians as well.

Fighting across Afghanistan is now at its worst since 2001, mostly in the south and east, bordering or near Pakistan, the Taliban’s former backer accused by some Afghan leaders and intelligence officers of still supporting its former protégé.

About 2 000 people, most of them militants, but also civilians, aid workers, Afghan forces and more than 90 foreign soldiers have been killed this year.

The violence is a mix of opposition to Afghan authorities and foreign forces, the drugs trade, tribe wars and crime.—Reuters

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