Kandahar (Afghanistan): Five car bombs that detonated simultaneously rocked Afghanistan`s largest southern city Tuesday, destroying a construction company office and damaging dozens of nearby buildings, officials said. At least 36 people died in the blast and 64 were wounded.
The force of the explosion shattered windows around the city and sent flames shooting into the sky.
Afghan officials said the blast appeared to target a Japanese construction company that mostly employs Pakistani engineers. The blast collapsed the company headquarters and destroyed part of a nearby wedding hall, a news reporter at the scene said.
The news reporter described the blast as the largest he has heard after almost eight years of living in Kandahar, the site of several large Taliban attacks in recent years.
The explosion killed at least 36 people and wounded 64, said Gen. Ghulam Ali Wahabat, a police commander in charge of southern Afghanistan.
So many houses and nearby buildings had collapsed that officials feared the death toll could rise further. The news reporter at the scene estimated that 40 shops had been destroyed.
"Once again they`ve killed children, women, innocent Afghans. They are not human. They are animals. You can see for yourself the destruction of this enemy," said deputy provincial police chief Mohammad Sher Shah.
Five vehicles filled with explosives detonated together, causing the massive blast, said provincial council member Haji Agha Lalai.
Taliban militants have carried out several complex attacks in Kandahar the last several year. Kandahar is the spiritual home of the Taliban. A large NATO base sits on Kandahar`s outskirts, but militants control districts immediately to the city`s west.
In other violence, a bomb blast killed four US troops in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, said military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker. No other information was released pending the notification of family members.
The deaths bring to 41 the number of US troops killed in Afghanistan this month, the second deadliest month in the country since the 2001 US invasion. Last month a record 44 US troops died.
This year has been the deadliest of the war for US troops. Including the latest deaths, at least 172 American forces have died in the Afghan war this year, according to an Associated Press count.
The US has more than 60,000 troops in the country.