Suicide blast kills 12 in Afghanistan

October 01, 2006|By Paul Watson | Paul Watson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber strapped with explosives detonated in front of the Afghan Interior Ministry as staffers arrived for work yesterday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 42.

The bomber blew up in a crowd of people passing through a security gate on a narrow dirt road just before 8 a.m. Emarai Basheri, an Interior Ministry spokesman, blamed the attack on "the enemies of the nation and peace in Afghanistan."

The Interior Ministry is in charge of Afghanistan's police, including units responsible for counterterrorism and counternarcotics operations.

Suicide bombers, once rare in Afghanistan, have carried out at least 50 attacks this year in the worst wave of insurgent violence since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban regime five years ago.

This month, the U.S. military said a suicide cell in Kabul, the Afghan capital, was targeting American and other international troops. The warning followed a suicide car bombing near the U.S. Embassy that killed two American soldiers and 14 Afghan civilians.

Insurgent attacks began to surge early this year as NATO gradually took over more responsibility for security in southern Afghanistan from U.S. forces. NATO is in command of military operations in the south, where Taliban and allied fighters have fought fierce battles in recent weeks.

The alliance says it doesn't have enough troops in Afghanistan to fight insurgents, who have surprised commanders with their tenacity. NATO has asked its members, which include the U.S., to send an additional 2,500 soldiers, but European nations have not met that request.

NATO announced last week that it would soon assume command from U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, where insurgent attacks are also on the rise after a treaty between Pakistan's government and Pashtun tribesmen in North Waziristan, on the Afghan border.

Under the treaty, the tribes are supposed to expel foreign fighters and end attacks in Afghanistan in exchange for a reduction in Pakistani security forces in the largely autonomous tribal areas. During a recent visit to the U.S., Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf defended the treaty, arguing that it was the best solution, but Afghan and U.S. officials doubt it will prevent Taliban and allied militants from moving into Afghanistan.

Paul Watson writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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