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89 killed in worst Afghanistan bombing since 2012



BY RAHIM FAIEZ

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The blast destroyed numerous mud-brick shops, flipped cars over and stripped trees of their branches, brutally underscoring the country's instability as U.S. troops prepare to leave by the end of the year and politicians in Kabul struggle for power after a disputed presidential runoff.

Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman, said the bomber detonated his explosives as he drove by the crowded market in a remote town in Urgun district, in the Paktika province bordering Pakistan. Azimi gave the death toll and said more than 40 other people were wounded.

Nearby hospitals were overwhelmed, and dozens of victims were transported over dangerous roads to the capital, Kabul.

Ahmad Shah, a gas station employee who rushed to the site to help, said he loaded dozens of people who were injured or killed into vehicles.

"I saw the smoke, and the town was burning. There were dead bodies everywhere," he said outside a hospital in Kabul.

Associated Press video footage of the aftermath showed mounds of twisted debris and the charred shells of cars flipped over on top of one another. Azimi said more than 20 shops and dozens of vehicles were destroyed.

Many victims were buried in the rubble, said Mohammad Reza Kharoti, administrative chief of Urgun district.

"It was a very brutal suicide attack against poor civilians," he said. "There was no military base nearby."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the Taliban issued a statement denying involvement, saying they "strongly condemn attacks on local people." Several other insurgent groups operate in Afghanistan.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said initial reports "suggest that the attacker prematurely detonated after police detected the explosives in his vehicle."

Several witnesses said the driver was in a four-wheel-drive vehicle and hit two vehicles parked on the edge of the market, leading police to open fire. Then the explosion happened.

Abdul Khan, who is from the area, rushed to the hospital in Kabul to donate blood. "Most of the people in the town lost three to four family members," he said, adding his cousin had been killed.

It was the deadliest insurgent attack against civilians since the U.S. invasion that ousted the Taliban in 2001. It exceeded the toll from twin bombings on Dec. 6, 2011, that targeted Shiite Muslims and killed 80 people in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif.

It was also the first major attack since a weekend deal between the two Afghan presidential contenders, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, averted a dangerous rift in the country's troubled democracy following last month's disputed runoff.

"People were shocked, and we are shocked, but this is the sad reality of Afghanistan," one of the candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, told The Associated Press in an interview.

The U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning the attack, and said it would not stop the drive for an Afghan-led peace in the country.

Unofficial results from the runoff showed former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead, but Abdullah's supporters say that is only because of widespread fraud.

Since fraud was alleged on both sides, the deal provides that every one of the 8 million ballots will be audited under national and international supervision over the next three or four weeks.

Neither the election nor the weekend deal has had any visible effect on security in the country, which has long seen near-daily attacks.

The United Nations said last week that civilian deaths are up 17 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2013, with 1,564 civilians killed from January through June. The Taliban have escalated their bombing campaign ahead of the planned withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces.

Hours before the Paktika blast, a roadside bomb in Kabul ripped through a minivan carrying seven employees of the media office of the presidential palace, killing two of the passengers. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Also, seven police officers, including a district counter-terrorism director, and six border guards were killed when Taliban insurgents attacked a post on the border with Pakistan in the eastern Khost province, provincial government spokesman Mubariz Mohammad Zadran said.

Zadran said the attack set off an hours-long gunbattle that left 34 insurgents and a local man dead. "The majority of the insurgents killed in the clash are Pakistani citizens," Zadran said.

Elsewhere in the country, two police officers were killed by a bomb concealed on a parked motorbike inside the southern city of Kandahar, said Zia Durani, spokesman for the Kandahar police chief.

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libsfault July 16 2014 at 5:15 AM

All are accomplishments in the Middle East have basically been wiped out. The US is in serious decline. Most likely never to recover. Thanks Mr President .and all your looney liberal friends..........

Flag Reply +48 rate up
10 replies
coopdabomb July 16 2014 at 5:59 AM

osama obama has done nothing right since he took the oath. His low info. voter base gets smaller every day. The heckling has begun and next will be the shoe toss. BYE BYE you piece of crap

Flag Reply +35 rate up
4 replies
jrb359 July 16 2014 at 5:47 AM

Nothing has gotten better since Obama took over in 2008! His foreign and domestic policies have been a total failure. At least he called the gay athlete and congradulated him for coming out of the closet!

Flag Reply +18 rate up
6 replies
mvnup July 16 2014 at 6:29 AM

Mr. 0 can't help his own country how can he help others?

Flag Reply +18 rate up
2 replies
diverdiv mvnup July 16 2014 at 7:58 AM

Hitler and Stalin were "Idealists".

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
tma2c diverdiv July 16 2014 at 10:21 AM

And Mao

Flag +1 rate up
Welcome Justin mvnup July 16 2014 at 11:10 AM

How can anyone believe he even wants to help other countries, when he shows no effort to even consider helping his own ?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
johnemac44 July 16 2014 at 6:48 AM

IMPEACH

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
Charlotte July 16 2014 at 4:43 AM

Such lovely peaceful people! May their types never come to the USA!

Flag Reply +12 rate up
4 replies
rimit9 July 16 2014 at 10:12 AM

this man has managed to lose two wars, get us invaded by aliens, refuses to secure the border, gotten Israel into a fight that distracts them from their real enemy, Iran, turned a civil war in Syria into a cross border war by arming terrorists in Syria, has the IRS, and the FEC punishing his opponents, He has been in charge of the worst recovery in the history of this country. Now he is destroying our military from the inside by firing our most experienced combat warriors . He has been caught spying on our allys, he, with the help of Hillary, finances Hamas, He refuses to approve the xl pipeline, while denying export permits for oil. He sits in Electric cars (that nobody wants) eats BBQ, cutting in line, plays golf, and goes on vacation. Folks we don't have a leader, we have a moocher in chief!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
grlsrm200 July 16 2014 at 9:03 AM

. All the arm chair warriors are out today. You sit in the confront of your home and never even saw Afghanistan let alone Iraq. . You listen to Fox News and think you have any idea what is really going on. I applaud Obama who had the courage to bring our soldiers home. Do you even care how many Americans lost their lives for these foolish and destructive wars and all for oil and nation building.For a people who could care less about democracy.Bush went in to fight a civil war in a country he knew nothing about. It was Bush's failure.Give unto "Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
fisherdude47 July 16 2014 at 8:01 AM

The middle east in whole will always be in conflict, it's pretty much biblical in nature and no outside country is going to prevent or even put a bent in stopping this behavior of killing anyone who could pose a threat to their beliefs. These people have been killing way before there was a USA so I say, let them continue and stop sending our men and woman over there. We have lost so many for nothing as this conflict still continues as it did in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan . Save America lives and start protecting our own boarders.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
smashingmonkey fisherdude47 July 16 2014 at 11:07 AM

That is such a simplistic take. The middle east is a mess largely because western nations have messed with it so much for the last century. Case in point: In the 50s, Iran was actual a model for modernization in the region. We were afraid their democratic government would be a threat to our (and Britain's) oil supply. So we overthrew their democracy and put the brutal Shah of Iran back in power. We destabilized a blossoming democracy for our own financial benefit. It is kind of dumb to later claim "they just can't stop killing each other" after such meddling.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jcbstz July 16 2014 at 9:15 AM

Boy , it sure is a good thing that obama told us the these bad guys were on the run AND that they were discriminated. I hate to think of the damage they might cause IF they had any power left. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaha

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
wlab123 jcbstz July 16 2014 at 9:29 AM

Does the phrase 'mission accomplished' ring any bells?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
jrb359 wlab123 July 16 2014 at 9:32 AM

Bush isn't the president anymore!

Flag 0 rate up
smashingmonkey jcbstz July 16 2014 at 10:54 AM

wlab123: Exactly. Obama and Bush have both failed miserably. Too many keep pretending it is a republican v democrat zero sum game. Which is why we never get anywhere. Both parties, for the most part, serve the same masters. $$$$$.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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