Relentless Violence Engulfs Afghanistan, 45 Killed
45 killed in a suicide attack at a volleyball game
NEW DELHI: A suicide bomber detonated his vest packed with explosives at amid a crowd of people who had gathered to watch a volleyball match, killing 45 in the attack in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
Mukhles Afghan, spokesperson for the governor of Paktika province, confirmed the attack and added that at least another 50 people had been injured in the attack in the province’s Yahya Khel district. Casualties were high because the crowd was dense, having gathered from different parts of the province to watch Sunday’s volleyball tournament.
The attack coincided with an agreement reached in Afghanistan’s parliament, on the same day, that allowed for US and NATO troops to remain in the country post 2014.
Sunday’s attack is the latest in a long string of attacks, that have been increasing in frequency since the conclusion of the Afghan presidential elections and the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
Most of these attacks, many of which are claimed by the Taliban, have been directed at national and international security forces. Last week, two days after Taliban fighters killed two security guards on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, officials say that they killed four Taliban suicide bombers during an attack on a compound housing foreign workers in the capital city.
The week before, a convoy of vehicles belonging to American-led coalition forces was attacked twice by Taliban gunmen. Although the convoy suffered no casualties, an Afghan civilian died in the attack. A few days before that in the same week, two separate bombings killed at least ten police officers, including a top commander. The bombings, in turn, followed an attack on the police headquarters in Kabul a day earlier that killed a senior police officer and injured six others. The explosion reportedly happened two hours after another explosion in Kabul, with news reports from the region quoting Defence Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Zahair Azimi saying that the earlier attack was on an Afghan army vehicle that resulted in no casualties.
Earlier, in October, six police officers and two civilians were killed in two separate attacks on the same day, a day after members of the Taliban ambushed a police convoy, leading to an hours-long gun battle in northern Afghanistan. Before that, in the same month, Taliban insurgents killed 22 security force members in Sar-e-Pol province north of Kabul, which in turn, followed a bomb in Kabul on the same day that killed one civilian.
A few weeks ago, although not claimed by the Taliban, a prominent female politician -- Shukria Barakzai -- narrowly escaped a suicide attack that killed three others.
Other recent attacks -- leading up to and during the Presidential elections -- include an attack that killed three soldiers belonging to the United States-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in September, a suicide bombing that killed Karzai’s cousin Hashmat Khalil Karzai, the shooting of 15 civilians, two Finnish relief workers, an attack on the Kabul airport, and one of the deadliest attacks since 2001 wherein a sports utility vehicle detonated in a busy market in Paktika province, eastern Afghanistan, that killed 90 people.
Sunday’s attack is the deadliest attack in Paktika province since the July market bombing, and the deadliest attack in Afghanistan in terms of casualties since Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as President of the troubled country.