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15 killed in two Afghan suicide attacks: Officials

In a fresh wave of attacks hitting Afghanistan, at least 15 people were killed and 33 others wounded in two suicide missions

AFP , Tuesday 10 Apr 2012
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At least 15 people were killed and 33 wounded in two suicide attacks targeting police and government offices in Afghanistan just hours apart on Tuesday, officials said.

Eleven people died and 28 were wounded when two suicide attackers rammed a car bomb into a government compound near the western city of Herat, the interior ministry said.

Provincial police chief Sayed Agha Saqeb told reporters that the bombers were being pursued by police when they detonated the vehicle at the entrance to the Guzara district compound along the road from the airport to the city.

"The car was under our surveillance. It was ordered twice to stop but they didn't stop," said the police chief.

"There were two individuals in the car, one was wearing a burqa. One of the bombers is totally shattered and the other person's body is still there with his (suicide) vest still unexploded."

The dead included two policemen, an intelligence officer and six civilians, the police chief said.

Just hours later, four policemen died when three suicide bombers stormed their compound in the southern province of Helmand, a local government spokesman said.

Two of the bombers set off explosives strapped to their bodies and a third was shot dead by police guarding the Musa Qala police offices in the troubled province, Daud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial administration told AFP.

"Three suicide attackers entered the police compound in Musa Qala district of Helmand. Two of them detonated their explosives, one was killed by police," Ahmadi told AFP.

Police chief Abdul Wali and four others were wounded in the attack, he said.

In the Herat bombing, most of the victims were civilians visiting the local administration offices on business, an official said.

An AFP reporter, among the first to arrive at the scene, said he saw bodies strewn among rubble and pieces of metal from the bombers' car.

Another witness told AFP that women and children were present when the bombing happened.

"Shortly before it happened, I saw some women and children there. After the bombing I saw up to 10 people lying in blood," the witness told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack, but suicide bombings are a hallmark of Taliban insurgents fighting to topple the Western-backed government of President Hamid karzai.

Herat, a business hub on the Iranian border, is normally relatively peaceful as most Taliban attacks are concentrated in their strongholds in the south of the country, including Helmand.

But the start of the new "fighting season" this spring has also seen a major attack in the northern province of Faryab last week, in which three US soldiers and seven Afghans were killed. That attack was claimed by the Taliban.

Also last week, a Taliban suicide bombing killed a local councillor and key ally of Karzai's in the eastern province of Kunar.

NATO has some 130,000 US-led troops fighting the insurgency, which began when the Taliban were ousted from power in a 2001 invasion in the wake of the Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

But civilians bear the brunt of the war. In February, the United Nations said civilian deaths from the Afghan conflict reached a record high in 2011, when 3,021 civilians died -- mostly at the hands of insurgents -- up eight percent from 2,790 in 2010.

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