No end to Afghan bloodshed

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 20 Sep 2019

A powerful suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing as many as 20 people and wounding more than 90 others, while a deadly drone strike in the country's east was blamed on US forces.

The Taleban, who claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, have carried out nearly daily attacks since peace talks with the United States collapsed earlier this month.

Yesterday's massive explosion destroyed part of the hospital in Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province, and left a fleet of ambulances broken and battered.

Local residents, many of whom had come to see their sick family members, used shawls and blankets to carry the wounded inside the destroyed building, while authorities scrambled to take the worst of the wounded to hospitals in nearby Kandahar.

Hours earlier, a drone attack in Nangarhar province blamed on US forces killed at least 16 and wounded tens of others, most of them civilians, said Jawaid Zaman, presidential adviser on tribal affairs.

The US forces said they carried out a strike in Nangarhar targeting Islamic State positions in the area. "We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts,'' said Colonel Sonny Legget.

Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, also said the target was Islamic State group militants who are in the area. But according to Zaman the local residents had provided prior notice to the local authorities that they would be collecting dried fruit. As many as 50 people were in the fields when the aerial attack occurred, he said.

The violence has further rattled the country as it prepares for national elections later this month. Two separate bombings on Tuesday, including one that targeted President Ashraf Ghani's election rally, killed 48 people.

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