Soldiers, Civilians Killed In Afghan Suicide Blast
September 29, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Thirty people have been killed in a suicide attack on an Afghan army bus in the capital, Kabul, according to officials.
The attack occurred early this morning when a suicide bomber wearing an Afghan army uniform set off a huge explosion while trying to board a bus carrying as many as 50 Afghan soldiers.
A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that civilians were among the victims.
The bus was completely destroyed by the blast and shop windows throughout the vicinity were shattered. Residents helped police retrieve pieces of flesh scattered by the blast.
"After the explosion, I came out of the house. I didn't know what happened," an eyewitness said of the scene. "There was smoke and dust everywhere, and the bus had exploded. Many people had been killed, and other people were trying to help the [people who had been injured]. I saw two women on the other side of the road who were unidentifiable. They had been completely torn to pieces."
Many of the people wounded in the attack were day laborers who had gathered nearby to look for work. A statement from the Afghan Interior Ministry suggested some of the laborers were among the dead, although it did not specify how many.
One man injured in the blast told RFE/RL, "I was in Karte-Parwan square in Kabul, where masons and painters usually gather [to look for work]. I was standing there hoping to get a job for the day. Then all of a sudden, I didn't know what had happened. When I opened my eyes, I found myself at the hospital. I have injuries on my legs and parts of my head."
The Taliban militia, which has launched more than 100 suicide attacks this year, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
More than 4,500 people have been reported killed in insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan this year.
Responding to today's blast, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for greater global efforts in the fight against terrorism.
"Fighting and defeating this evil [of terrorism] requires a worldwide approach," Karzai said. "Obviously, we will have to make sacrifices to reach this goal. Afghanistan is not the only victim -- Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and many other nations are also suffering, so we must fight with much stronger vigor."
Efforts To Quell Violence
Karzai also said he is pursuing an opportunity to hold talks with fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar to seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing insurgency.
Karzai said he was unaware of the Taliban leader's whereabouts, but said he would welcome an opportunity to meet with Mullah Omar. He added that the Taliban was a significant part of Afghan society that could not be overlooked.
European Union foreign-policy chief Javier Solana decried today's blast but said efforts to rebuild Afghanistan must go on. "We must carry on," he said. "The EU is doing its utmost."
Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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