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    Saturday, May 27, 2017

    A suicide car bomber killed 54 people in the eastern Afghan city of Khost

    A suspected suicide bomber killed as many as 18 people in Afghanistan on Saturday and fighting between militants and security forces left at least 36 people dead on the first day of Ramazan.
    In eastern Khost province, a Taliban attacker detonated a car bomb near a football field that is close to a military base, officials said.
    “The target was a public bus station which was hit by the bombing. The victims were in civilian clothes and it is difficult to verify their identities.”
    But provincial police chief Faizullah Ghairat said members of the elite Khost Provincial Force (KPF) — known to be paid and equipped by the American CIA — were the target of the attack.
    “The bombing took place early morning when KPF members were heading to work,” Ghairat said. “But most of the victims are civilians.”
    At a local hospital, doctors received at least 18 dead bodies and eight wounded people, said Gul Mohammaddin Mangal, head of the public health department in Khost. “The bodies are not recognizable and it is hard to say if they are civilians or security forces,” he said. Taliban spokesman Zabih­ullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the Khost attack, saying it was aimed at members of the Afghan security forces.
    A witness at the scene did not observe any military or police vehicles among those destroyed in the blast.
    In the north-western province of Badghis, militants attacked security forces in Qadis district, sparking fighting that killed 22 insurgents, six security forces, and eight civilians, said Zahir Bahand a spokesman for the provincial governor.
    The fighting also left 33 militants and 17 civilians wounded, he said.
    In Nangarhar province on Friday, some residents of Achin district rebelled against fighters of the militant Islamic State group who have occupied much of that district, resulting in fighting that left 15 militants and six civilians dead, provincial governor Gulab Mangar said in a statement.
    The KPF, estimated to have around 4,000 fighters, are believed to operate a shadow war against the Taliban in a province that borders Pakistan and are accused of torture and extrajudicial killings.
    The brazen car attack, claimed by the Taliban on their website, comes just a day after at least 15 Afghan soldiers were killed when insurgents attacked their base in Kandahar, in the third major assault this week on the military in the southern province.
    The attack in Shah Wali Kot district followed insurgent raids earlier this week on military bases in the same area and Maiwand district, bringing the death toll among Afghan troops in Kandahar to around 60.
    The Western-backed Afghan government is battling both Taliban and IS militants around the country.
    Taliban forces have increased their attacks in the weeks before Ramazan, with a string of strikes in Kandahar, Paktia, and Helmand, among other provinces. The battlefield losses mark a stinging blow for Nato-backed Afghan forces and have raised concerns about their capacity to beat back the resurgent Taliban.
    Afghan forces are beset by un­­pr­ecedented casualties and bla­med for corruption, desertion and “ghost soldiers” who exist on the payroll but whose salaries are usu­rped by fraudulent commanders.
    During another deadly Taliban attack on security outposts in southern Zabul province on Sunday, local officials made desperate calls to Afghan television stations to seek attention because they were unable to contact senior authorities for help.
    The pleas for attention, a major embarrassment for the Western-backed government, highlighted the disarray in security ranks.
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    Item Reviewed: A suicide car bomber killed 54 people in the eastern Afghan city of Khost Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar