Suicide attack kills 17 at Afghan public bath: Police
Kandahar: A suicide bomber killed 17
people and wounded another 21 in assassinating a police commander at a public bath in a southern Afghan town on the border with Pakistan, the local government said.
A nine-year Taliban insurgency is concentrated in
southern Afghanistan, but suicide attacks targeting civilians
in public places are relatively rare.
"A suicide bomber blew up explosives strapped to
his chest at a public bath in Spin Boldak," border police
official General Abdul Razaq told AFP.
He put the death toll at 13, but the provincial
government spokesman later confirmed that at least 17 people
had died in the attack.
"Twenty-one people were also wounded," said the
spokesman, Zalmay Ayoubi, from the provincial capital,
The Kandahar administration released a statement
saying that the bomber had been targeting a "police commander"
named "Ramazan", who died in the attack, but did not
immediately release any other details.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for
the blast, but such attacks are trademarks of the Taliban, who
are fighting to bring down the Western-backed Afghan
government and expel 140,000 US-led foreign troops.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates this week ordered
an extra 1,400 Marines to southern Afghanistan in what the
Pentagon said would put pressure on the Taliban in order to
pre-empt a traditional insurgent offensive in the spring.
Defence officials expressed hope that the extra
troops would bolster areas recently cleared between Kandahar
city and Helmand province.
There are about 97,000 American troops in
Afghanistan and 45,000 from other countries. Officials said
the new Marines would not push the total number of US forces
above the limit of 100,000 authorised by President Barack
A year after ordering 30,000 more troops to
Afghanistan has part of a last-ditch "surge" strategy designed
to defeat Al-Qaeda and reverse the Taliban, Obama conceded
last month that gains were fragile and reversible.
The White House said the strategy was "on track"
but 711 foreign troops died in the Afghan during 2010, an
average of two a day and exceeding by far the previous most
deadly annual toll of 521 during 2009.
US commanders are under pressure to show clear
progress in Afghanistan in 2011 so that at least a limited
draw down of American troops can begin from July, or else face
fresh public doubts about the course of the war.
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