(New York Times)
KABUL, Afghanistan — A car bomb exploded Monday near a police compound in the center of Kandahar city, killing a man and wounding 26 other people.
The man and more than a dozen of the wounded were members of the Afghan National Civil Order Police. The others were civilians, police and hospital officials said.
“A white Toyota Corolla laden with explosives was parked near a police security check post in front of Kabul Bank,” said Zalmai Ayoubi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
The bomb was remotely detonated at noon, according to the police officials, who said they believed that the police were the target.
Fazal Ahmad Shirzad, the provincial security chief, said officials did not yet know which group those who carried out the attack belonged to: “Al Qaeda, Taliban or Haqqani network.”
The Haqqani network has been less visible in recent months after a series of raids by NATO special forces. If linked to the Haqqani network, the bombing may signal a return to action, but one that is ineffectual compared with past attacks, which have killed dozens.
Shortly after the blast, Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar was crowded with victims and relatives. Three of the wounded were in critical condition, according to Dr. Muhammad Dawoud Farhad, the hospital director.
“I was sitting in my shop when there was a huge blast nearby,” said Muhammad Sadiq, a shopkeeper who suffered shrapnel wounds to the head. “The blast broke the windows and glass in my shop.”
In other parts of Afghanistan, officials said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, and Afghan troops had killed at least 10 insurgents in two separate clashes. In Helmand Province, coalition troops spotted insurgents planting a roadside bomb and opened fire, killing numerous insurgents with small arms fire.
In Kapisa Province, ISAF and Afghan soldiers engaged in a fierce gun battle in which a number of insurgents were killed. ISAF reported no casualties to coalition troops.
In the aftermath of an ISAF raid on Friday night that left two Afghan civilians dead, two senior Afghan police officials were relieved of duty, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed in an interview on Monday.
“Afghanistan’s interior minister suspended an Afghan police general who was the commander of Police Special Operations unit,” said the spokesman, Zamari Bashary. “And we dismissed a colonel who was an investigation and crime detection officer. They were both referred to judicial authorities for further questioning.”
Afghan officials had initially protested that, in contradiction of recent agreements, they had not been made aware of the raids. They now concede that the disciplined officials were told of the raid by coalition forces but did not properly alert other Afghan officials.
The raid came in response to reports of an imminent car bomb attack against the United States Embassy in Kabul, but no explosives were found and officials later apologized, according to the owner of the company that was the target of the raid.
Night raids have been a sensitive issue in the past, with the Karzai government repeatedly denouncing them for causing civilian casualties and ISAF officials defending them as an important tool in fighting the insurgency. NATO troops have superior night vision equipment and other specialized tools that give them an advantage in such operations.
Election Complaint Panel Formed
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s Supreme Court has set up a special tribunal to review scores of complaints of fraud and corruption in the September parliamentary elections, a decision that could bring new uncertainty to a vote already marred by widespread irregularities.
The 249-seat Parliament is to convene on Jan. 20, and it was unclear whether the tribunal could make any decisions that could alter the final result, which has been accepted by the international community.
President Hamid Karzai issued a decree on Sunday empowering the five-member tribunal, his legal adviser, Nasrullah Stanekzai, said Monday.