Afghan suicide attack kills 3, wounds more than 90
KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives Friday in eastern Afghanistan, killing three Afghan civilians and wounding more than 90 people, including several Afghan and NATO troops, officials said.
The early morning explosion in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak province, also destroyed or damaged several government offices and a local prison, said provincial spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.
The blast occurred in an area that is home to government offices, the provincial governor's office, police headquarters, a prison and a coordination center used by international and Afghan security forces.
Shahid said two men and a woman were killed and 90 people — 75 men, 11 women and four children — were wounded.
U.S. Army Maj. Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the international military coalition, said a half-dozen NATO soldiers also received minor injuries in the explosion.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying in a statement to media that it was in response to the recent execution of four Taliban detainees at the Afghan government's main detention center in Kabul.
The men were convicted and sentenced to death in Afghan courts for a variety of crimes, including murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery and cruelty against children. The Taliban condemned the hangings, saying the detainees were prisoners of war who were unjustly jailed.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said Afghan security troops and prisoners were among the wounded in the Wardak blast. Three prisoners tried to escape from the damaged prison, but were apprehended, he said.
"Unfortunately, it was a very bad explosion and many of our countrymen were injured," he told reporters at a news conference in Kabul. "There was a lot of damage to infrastructure. The buildings that were around the blast were destroyed."
Sediqi did not provide a number for the wounded Afghan troops. He said the government was sending a delegation, including the head of Afghan prisons, to Wardak, to investigate the attack.
The Taliban said the attack involved two suicide bombers and claimed it killed tens of Afghan and international troops. The militants often exaggerate the number of casualties caused in their attacks.
Afghan and international forces have been working to root out insurgents in Wardak, to keep them from moving north into the Afghan capital. The international forces are scheduled to turn over security responsibility to local troops by the end of 2014.
Separately, Sediqi said that police in Kabul had arrested two men with four explosive vests. He said the two, described as experts in making suicide vests, were planning to conduct an attack in Kabul on Saturday, which is the holy day of Ashoura in Afghanistan.
Last year on Ashoura, a suicide bomber on foot struck worshippers at a Shiite shrine in Kabul, killing at least 80 people. It was the country's first major sectarian attack since the fall of the Taliban regime.
Ashoura, which is observed in the Muslim world either on Saturday or Sunday, commemorates the 7th century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.