Suicide blast near Nato base

2011-12-02 21:21

Pul-I-Alam - A powerful suicide truck bomb exploded near the entrance to a Nato base in Afghanistan on Friday, wounding up to 70 people, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in the Muhammad Agha district of Logar province, south of the capital Kabul, which took place at around 03:30 GMT.

The blast could be heard for several kilometres, an AFP reporter in the area said.

Logar's health director, Mohammad Zarif Nayebkhail, told AFP up to 70 people were taken to hospital with injuries from shrapnel or flying glass.

"Up to 70 wounded have been taken to the main hospital in the district - seven of them are (Afghan) security guards of Nato, the rest are civilians," he said. "Several of the wounded were in a serious condition."

Nato's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that one coalition soldier was wounded. There were no ISAF fatalities.

Logar's deputy police chief Mohammad Abed described the explosion as "huge", adding it had destroyed some homes nearby.

Haqqani network

"The suicide attacker wanted to ram his explosive-laden vehicle into the coalition forces base but he was stopped at the gate and detonated the truck outside the base," he said.

In September, 77 US troops were wounded in a truck bombing which targeted a Nato base in Wardak province, which neighbours Logar.

US officials blamed the attack on the Haqqani network, an Afghan Taliban faction whose leaders are based in Pakistan's north-western tribal belt.

Civilians are increasingly caught up in the Afghan war.

The UN says civilian deaths in the first half of this year rose by 15% to 1 462, with insurgents responsible for 80%.

There are currently 140 000 international troops in Afghanistan fighting a decade-long, Taliban-led insurgency alongside Afghan government forces.

Foreign combat troops are due to leave by the end of 2014 but a substantial presence is expected to remain to train Afghan security forces.