Eight dead in Taliban suicide car bomb: Afghan police

Posted By: Pti
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Khost (Afghanistan), Feb 18 (AFP) Eight people, includinga policeman, were killed and 30 others were wounded today in aTaliban suicide car bomb attack on the police headquarters ina city in eastern Afghanistan, police said.

The incident in Khost is the latest to target Afghanpolice who, with the country''s army, are due to take controlof security from international troops by 2014.

"The most recent toll that I have received from theexplosion site and hospitals is eight dead and 30 peopleinjured including women and children," local police chiefAbdul Hakim Eshaqzai told AFP.

Local hospitals have been "overwhelmed" by the influx ofwounded people, he added, warning: "The casualty toll willpossibly increase."

The police chief blamed the attack on "the enemies of thepeople and government of Afghanistan," a phrase often used byofficials to refer to the Taliban. The bomb was carried in aToyota van, he added.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP that themilitant Islamists, battling international forces inAfghanistan since being ousted from power in 2001, wereresponsible.

"The bomber has attacked the second police districtheadquarters and has also destroyed four police vehicles inthe attack," he said.

An AFP reporter at the blast scene said the road wascovered in blood and body parts, while windows nearby had beenshattered.

Pieces of human flesh were scattered as far as 50 metresfrom the explosion''s location, indicating the blast was astrong one, the reporter said.

The Taliban frequently target Afghan police in theircampaign against President Hamid Karzai''s Western-backedgovernment.

Earlier this week, 19 people including 15 police and anintelligence agent died in a string of attacks centred onpolice headquarters in Afghanistan''s de facto southerncapital, Kandahar.

Kandahar is seen as the birthplace of the Taliban and,although southern Afghanistan sees much of the worst fighting,international and Afghan forces are also locked in a toughfight with insurgents in parts of the east.

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

Khost province, where the latest blast took place,borders Pakistan which is widely believed to be a key sourceof fighters, funds and supplies for the Taliban.

In 2009, Khost was the scene of the worst attack on USintelligence officials since 1983 when eight people werekilled by a suicide bomber who was reportedly a triple agentat a CIA base.

There are currently around 140,000 international troopsin Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

The total strength of the Afghan police and army hasrisen by 36 percent in the last year and the InternationalSecurity Assistance Force (ISAF) projects that figures forpolice will rise above 120,000 by September.

But there are concerns over the quality of the force,which is beset by problems of illiteracy, corruption anddesertion.

On Wednesday, the head of the European Union''s policetraining force EUPOL, Jukka Savolainen, said that the processof training the police should have started earlier than itdid. (AFP)

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