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Kandahar blasts were warning to US and Nato - Taliban

Afghans inspect the site of one of the blasts in Kandahar. Photo: 14 March 2010
Among the dead were 13 policemen and 22 civilians, officials say

Saturday's bomb attacks in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar were a warning to US and Nato forces, the Taliban say.

A Taliban spokesman said the attacks were in response to a planned major offensive by international forces against militants in the region.

At least 35 people were killed and some 57 injured in the blasts in Kandahar, Afghanistan's third largest city.

The main target appeared to be Kandahar's prison, officials said, though no prisoners escaped.

'Sabotage'

Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said the blasts were retaliation for comments made by the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, that the Kandahar region would be targeted to wipe out the Taliban.

"This was an answer to Gen McChrystal," Mr Ahmadi told the AFP news agency.

"This was to sabotage the operation and to show we can strike anywhere, any time we want," the spokesman said.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in Kabul, says that Kandahar is the Taliban's spiritual home.

'Like doomsday'

President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who is the head of Kandahar's provincial council, told the BBC that the first suicide attack involved a vehicle targeting Kandahar's main prison.

MAJOR KANDAHAR ATTACKS
Map of the area
17 Feb 2008: 100 killed by suicide bomber at a dog fight
25 Aug 2009: Car bomb in shopping area kills 43
13 June 2008: 900 inmates flee after truck bomb blasts hole in jail
18 Feb 2008: Blast targeting Canadian troops kills 37 civilians
5 Sept 2002: Bombing in city centre kills at least 30, followed by attempt on President Karzai's life
13 Mar 2010: At least 27 killed in four suicide attacks across city

The second explosion came from a motorbike parked near his home, he said, while another involved a suicide bomber on a bicycle who targeted a police vehicle.

The fourth blast was at Kandahar police headquarters, where four policeman were confirmed to have been killed.

A wedding celebration was taking place nearby and a number of guests were believed to be among the dead and injured.

"Last night was like doomsday for all of Kandahar's people," Mohammad Anwar, a local shopkeeper, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

In June 2008, a suicide bomber blew apart the Kandahar prison gates and a nearby checkpoint, freeing hundreds of prisoners, many of them suspected insurgents.

But Ahmed Wali Karzai said that this time the walls of the prison were not breached, but that nearby buildings were badly damaged.

The head of the city's main hospital, Abdul Qayyum Pukhla, was quoted as saying that both civilians and police were among the dead in the attacks.

Western troops were assisting at the request of Afghan authorities, said Major Macen Waoczak, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force.

The blasts came as Nato and Afghan forces continued a major operation against Taliban militants in neighbouring Helmand province.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Sydney Morning Herald Kandahar blasts kill 35 in Taliban 'warning to Western troops' - 32 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Kandahar bombings a warning to Nato, says Taliban - 36 hrs ago
Citizen.co.za Taliban say Kandahar blasts 'a warning to Western troops' - 41 hrs ago
Irish Times Kandahar attacks leave 30 dead - 42 hrs ago
Sky News Afghan Governor Calls For Help After Attacks - 43 hrs ago


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