Twenty people have been killed in a suicide bombing in a crowded market in southern Afghanistan. Thirteen more were injured in the blast in Dihrawud in Urzugan province. Many of the victims were women and children. Those killed included three children. Several shops were destroyed.
“The bomber had explosives, attached to a waistcoat,” said General Abdul Hameed, a senior Afghan army officer in Uruzgan. “He was spotted by a guard of the money market which is inside the bazaar and then blew himself up, killing 20 civilians including the guard.” (The Globe and Mail)
The bomber apparently planned to attack a meeting of NATO and tribal officials. It is unclear why the bomber detonated his explosives before reaching the heavy guarded building where the meeting was taking place. District police Chief Omar Khan, who was at the meeting, said NATO forces had surrounded the building for the meeting, which is held on a regular basis. NATO forces responded to the blast, which occurred near the Forward Operating Base Hadrain.
Coalition forces responded to the blast and found a large amount of opium at the scene, they said in a statement. It was not clear if the opium had any connection to the blast.
This was the worst incident where civilians had been killed in Afghanistan since Sept. 29, when a bomb struck a crowded bus on the outskirts of Kandahar.
The attack came a day after the UN released a report showing that the number of Afghan civilians killed in war-related violence was at its highest level last year. The Obama administration has begun to escalate the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan to deal with what has been a deteriorating security situation, particularly in the volatile southern provinces of the country where the Taliban has been resurgent. Uruzgan is the home province of the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar.