Taliban suicide attacker kills nine in Afghanistan

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Khost (Afghanistan), Feb 18 (AFP) A Taliban suicide carbomber struck a district police headquarters in Afghanistantoday, killing nine people and wounding 40 others near thePakistani border, officials said.

It was the second major attack in a week on Afghanpolice, who alongside a fledgling army, are due to takecontrol of security from US-led NATO troops by the end of 2014to allow the bulk of Western forces to withdraw.

Public health official, Amir Badsha Mangal, said ninepeople were killed and 40 others injured, four of themseriously, in Friday''s attack in the eastern city of Khost.

Local police chief Abdul Hakim Eshaqzai said onepoliceman was killed, and that women and children were amongthe dead.

Hospitals in the city have been "overwhelmed" by theinflux of wounded, he added, warning: "The casualty toll willpossibly increase."

An AFP reporter said blood and body parts littered theroad after the attack and that nearby windows in a busycivilian area had been shattered.

Pieces of human flesh were flung up to 50 metres (yards)from the blast spot, indicating the explosion was a strongone, the reporter said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP that theIslamist militia, which has battled international forces andthe Western-backed government in Afghanistan since beingousted in by a 2001 US-led invasion, were responsible.

"The bomber has attacked the second police district (ofKhost) headquarters and has also destroyed four policevehicles in the attack," he said.

President Hamid Karzai, whose government depends onWestern support to fight the Taliban, said the "act of horror"proved that "terrorists are hostile to the innocent people ofAfghanistan and want them to live in a state of fear."

The Taliban have frequently targeted Afghan police intheir nine-year campaign against Karzai''s government.

Last Saturday, 19 people including 15 police and anintelligence agent died when suicide bombers armed with guns,grenades and car bombs targeted the police headquarters inAfghanistan''s de facto southern capital, Kandahar.

Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban and althoughthe south sees much of the worst fighting, US-led NATO andAfghan forces are also locked in a tough fight with insurgentsin the east.

Last month, 13 civilians were killed by a roadside bombin Paktika province, in eastern Afghanistan.

Paktika and Khost both border Pakistan, where the Talibanand other allied Islamist networks keep rear bases thatWashington wants the Pakistani military to destroy to helpsuffocate the insurgency in Afghanistan. (AFP)

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