Suicide blast at Afghan police HQ kills 13

Last Updated: Monday, August 1, 2011 - 00:37

Kandahar: Twelve policemen and a child
were killed on Sunday when a suicide car bomber struck outside
police headquarters in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar
Gah, officials said.

The attack came days after control of security in the
city, the capital of Helmand province, passed from British to
Afghan forces as part of a process that will see all foreign
combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Some experts question the ability of Afghan soldiers
and police to protect their country against attacks from the
Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the latest blast, and
other insurgents.

The interior ministry confirmed the death toll and
vowed the attack would not prevent the police from battling
the Taliban, leaders of a 10-year insurgency raging across the
country.

"Twelve Afghan National Police members and a child
were martyred and 12 other Afghan National Police members were
wounded (along with) two civilians," it said in a statement.

"The Ministry of Interior strongly condemns the
insurgents (behind) this un-Islamic and inhumane action and
such attacks will never weaken the determination of Afghan
National Police."

The blast happened at around 0830 IST (0400 GMT) in
front of the heavily-secured police headquarters as Afghan
police left to go on a patrol, a statement from the governor`s
office added.

In a statement on their website, the Taliban claimed
responsibility for the attack in Helmand, one of the most
dangerous provinces in Afghanistan and a key focus of the war
for international troops.

"A large number of policemen were gathered and a hero
of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan struck and exploded his
vehicle laden with explosives," the statement said.

The attack came as an official said 10 Afghan security
guards were killed in central Afghanistan yesterday in an
attack on a convoy carrying supplies to international troops.

The convoy was ambushed by insurgents in the restive
province of Ghazni, triggering an hour-long battle, governor`s
spokesman Maroof Ayubi said.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that
attack in a statement. Anti-government forces frequently
target convoys supplying the foreign and Afghan militaries.

The Lashkar Gah blast comes amid ongoing concerns over
the ability of the Afghan security forces, which are receiving
huge sums of money from the international community in a bid
to build them up.

There are currently at least 126,000 police in
Afghanistan and thousands more are being trained up in
programmes financed by countries in the NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

However, they have faced allegations of corruption and
also struggle with factors including low literacy rates among
recruits.

The Afghan police and army are frequently targeted in
attacks by the Taliban and other insurgents in a bid to
undermine President Hamid Karzai`s government in Kabul.

There are currently roughly 140,000 foreign troops in
Afghanistan, of which about 100,000 are from the United
States.

Some nations including the United States have already
started withdrawing troops as part of a phased drawdown ahead
of the 2014 deadline.

The Helmand attack follows a spate of assassinations
in southern Afghanistan in recent weeks, including that of the
president`s powerful half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, in
neighbouring Kandahar province.

Karzai was killed by his bodyguard earlier this month,
while Kandahar mayor Ghulam Haidar Hameedi was assassinated
last week by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his
turban.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 31, 2011 - 12:39

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