'At least nine dead' in attack at Afghan volleyball match

AFP , Sunday 27 Sep 2015

At least nine civilians were killed and 33 wounded in a bomb attack Sunday at a volleyball match in Afghanistan's Paktika province, a volatile region bordering Pakistan, officials said.

"At around 6:20 pm this evening an explosion happened in a volleyball field in Khairkot district of Paktika province. Initial information shows nine people, all of them civilians, have been killed," interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.

The police chief of Paktika province, Zarawar Zahid, put the death toll at 10, with 33 injuring including children.

"The enemy had placed explosives on a motorbike and detonated it on the edge of the volleyball playground and as a volleyball match was ongoing," he said.

A witness, Aref, told AFP: "It is like a bloodbath here, many people are lying dead or wounded."

In November last year, 57 people were killed when a suicide blast ripped through a crowd watching a volleyball game in the same eastern province.

Volleyball, like many other sports, was banned by the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Paktika is considered a stronghold of the Haqqani network, a hardline militant group aligned with the Taliban.

The Haqqani network, which was designated a terrorist organisation by the US in 2012, has been blamed for large-scale attacks on government and NATO targets across Afghanistan as well as for many kidnappings and murders.

The latest incident, which follows a lull in attacks during the Muslim festival of Eid, underlines the challenges facing President Ashraf Ghani, who came to power one year ago and who has accused Pakistan of links to deadly attacks that hit Kabul last summer.

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