17 killed in Afghanistan suicide attack



A suicide bombing rocked Afghanistan's Khost province on Thursday, leaving 17 people dead and injuring 37, including a parliamentarian, the country's interior ministry said.

The bloody bombing happened at 9.30 a.m., Xinhua news agency reported citing the ministry statement.

"The interior ministry strongly condemns the cowardly terrorist attack in Khost city that claimed 17 lives and injured 37 others," the statement said.

The deadly attack took place when hundreds of people were staging a protest against acting Khost provincial Governor Jabbar Naeemi, demanding that the central government dismiss him.

The interior ministry in its statement confirmed that a parliamentarian, Hamayon Hamayon, the head of the defence committee in Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament, is also among those injured.

Earlier, police chief of Khost province Faiz Mohammad Ghairat, talking to the media put the number of casualties at 17 dead and 50 injured.

Hours after the gruesome incident, the acting governor of Khost province in a statement sent to media put the number of those dead at 16 and those injured at 40.

A statement by the acting governor said: "The enemies of peace organised a suicide attack among people who were staging a peaceful demonstration, leaving 16 people dead and injuring 40 others."

In a similar statement, Chief Executive of the Afghan government Abdullah Abdullah also condemned the suicide attack in the strongest terms, instructing security agencies to initiate a thorough investigation and bring to justice those behind the massacre.

Although Taliban militants have yet to claim responsibility, political observers are of the view that the armed outfit would increase anti-government activities in the spring and summer commonly known as the fighting season in Afghanistan.

In a separate incident on Thursday, a district police chief was killed when a mine planted by militants struck his vehicle in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province.

"Taliban militants attacked a police checkpoint in Mirmandab area of Gereshk district in the early hours of Thursday and district police chief Hekmatullah Hakmal headed towards the post to help, but on the way his vehicle ran over a mine killing him on the spot," provincial police chief Nabi Jan Mullahkhil told reporters in Helmand's capital Lashkar Gah.

Afghan security forces launched operations against Taliban militants in parts of Helmand province, including Gereshk district, some two months ago and so far hundreds of the insurgents have been killed, according to officials. - IANS