AT LEAST 10 policemen were killed and 18 others, mostly civilians, were wounded in a suicide attack Saturday in a crowded area of the northeast Afghan city of Kunduz, provincial authorities said.
The attacker, who was on foot, detonated his explosives next to a group of police officers, according to several sources.
“We have 10 dead, including the counter terrorism police chief and head of traffic police and their bodyguards,” Sayed Sarwar Hussani, Kunduz police spokesman told AFP.
Thirteen civilians and five policemen were wounded in the blast, Hussani said, adding that the final death toll may rise.
The attack was “the work of the enemies of Afghanistan”, he said, using a phrase common among Afghan officials to describe Taliban insurgents.
AFP could not immediately reach the Taliban for comment on the attack, which has so far not been claimed by any group.
Afghanistan’s interior ministry and the provincial governor spokesman Enayatullah Khaleeq confirmed the toll.
According to the head of the Kunduz health department, Saad Mukhtar, 19 people in total were wounded in the attack, which police officials said took place around 5:20 pm (12:50pm Irish time).
Such attacks have in the past been blamed on Taliban insurgents who are leading an 11-year insurgency against the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.
Taliban militants have stepped up their fight against Afghan troops as the country’s forces are increasingly taking over security responsibility from US-led NATO troops.
Earlier Saturday, a suicide attacker on a bicycle killed two civilians in southeastern Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, and on Friday a suicide bomber in a car attacked a NATO convoy in Afghanistan’s strategic Kapisa province, killing at least five civilians and wounding 15 others.
Also this week a squad of Taliban suicide bombers attacked Kabul traffic police headquarters in the heart of the city, killing three police officers and wounding dozens others.
The attacks come at a crucial juncture for Afghanistan as US-led NATO troops are preparing for their withdrawal from the country by the end of 2014. Afghan and international observers have predicted a civil war could grip the country once foreign troops have pulled out.