Dozens have been killed in bomb attacks across Afghanistan in one of the bloodiest days for civilians this year. In the worst attack, more than 20 were killed in three suicide blasts in the south-western city of Zaranj.
Three suicide bombers targeted busy markets in Zaranj, the capital of the south-western province of Nimroz, on Tuesday. Preliminary information offered different details on the casualties in the city close to Afghanistan's border with Iran.
"According to latest report of causalities, 25 civilians and four security forces were killed in today's cowardice suicide bombings in Zaranj city," deputy police chief of Nimroz province Abdul Majid Latifi, told German news agency dpa. "Fifty other civilians and six members of the security forces were injured and taken to the hospital."
Latifi said the three attackers were part of an original group of 11 suicide bombers who intended to detonate explosives in coordinated attacks across the city.
"In total, 11 suicide bombers and attackers had tried to attack several locations in the city. Three of the bombers blew themselves up. Three others were shot dead by the police before they could do so," Latifi said. "Five others were arrested by the police."
Nimroz is considered a comparatively peaceful Afghan province and the attack appeared to be the worst of its kind since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Violence has reportedly spiked over the summer.
Hours later another 10 civilians were killed when a bomb went off in Dashte Archi district in the northern province of Kunduz. According to district governor Sheikh Sadruddin at least 28 were injured.
Last week a UN six-monthly report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan found that the general public was still bearing the brunt of the insurgency.
The UN said that 1,145 civilians were killed between January 1 and June 30 this year, a marked decrease on 2011 figures. The report attributed the decline to a particularly harsh winter that hampered fighting in Afghanistan.
ccp, msh /crh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)