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February 17, 2008
At least 80 die in Afghan Suicide Bombing
A horrific attack in Afghanistan at a dog fight of all places has killed at least 80 people and wounded dozens more.
It's the worst suicide attack since 2001:
A prominent militia commander who stood up against the Taliban was killed in the attack and officials said he may have been the target. The Taliban is denying responsibility for the attack. This may be true or, they could be trying to deflect attention from themselves due to the horrific body count. Another possibility is an independent operation by al-Qaeda who would see the death of Jan as one more opportunity to destablize the government.
Several hundred people, including Afghan militia leaders, had gathered to watch the competition on the western edge of the southern city of Kandahar. Witnesses reported gunfire from bodyguards after the blast but it was not immediately clear how many of the casualties might have been caused by bullets.
Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid said 80 people had been killed in the attack. Abdullah Fahim, a Health Ministry spokesman, said 70 were wounded. Khalid blamed the attack on "the enemy of Afghanistan," which typically means the Taliban.
The attack's apparent target, Abdul Hakim Jan, served as a commander of an auxiliary police force, a government-backed security force made of area tribesmen that is often shorthand for a local militia operating with government approval.
Kandahar province is the responsibility of the Canadian contingent of NATO troops. Overall, the Canucks have done a spectacular job of securing the province and rebuilding infrastructure with their crack Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Teams (KPRT). But they could use some help. What this attack shows is that until NATO countries like Germany and France start committing troops to the fight rather than guarding the airport, Canada will have its hands full.