Suicide bombing kills 21 at Pul-e-Alam in Afghanistan: Govt accuses Taliban.
The death toll in a powerful suicide truck bombing that hit a guest house in eastern Afghanistan rose to 21 with as many as 90 injured, authorities said Saturday.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the late-night bombing in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province. There was no indication why the guesthouse was attacked. In Afghanistan, guesthouses are accommodations often provided free of charge by the government, usually for the poor, travelers, and students.
The Interior Ministry was quick to blame the Taliban. There was no immediate response from the Taliban.
The attack took place on the eve of the official date set for the start of the final withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban, who had demanded that all US troops withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1, has offered no guarantees for the safety of the departing troops.
There was no indication that the bombing was related to the withdrawal and there are no US or NATO troops in Logar province.
Hasib Stanikzai, head of the Logar provincial council, said that at the time of the attack, a group of local policemen was staying at the guest house, awaiting transport home. Other rooms were occupied by students from more remote districts who had come to the provincial capital for university entrance exams.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the attack was under investigation and that the roof of the guest house had collapsed from the shelling. It was feared that the bodies could be trapped under the rubble, he said.
After 20 years, Washington is ending its “eternal war” in Afghanistan. Starting Saturday, the last 2,500 to 3,500 remaining US troops will begin leaving the country, to be fully out by September 11 at the latest.
The withdrawal comes amid a resurgence of the Taliban, who control or dominate half of Afghanistan.