Suicide attack kills 21 police personnel in Afghanistan


Kabul : A suicide bomber blew himself up Monday in a government building in southern Afghanistan, killing 21 policemen and wounding 20 while the Afghan army arrested three would-be suicide bombers in the same region, officials said.

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The attack in the Uruzgan provincial capital, Tarin Kot, occurred when the bomber entered a police-training centre and detonated his explosives vest.

Zemarai Bashary, an interior ministry spokesman said the blast killed 21 reserve officers, while police chief Juma Gul Hemat said about 20 were wounded, seven in critical condition.

The bomber was wearing a police uniform and blew himself up after police found him suspicious and tried to arrest him, Hemat said. It was unclear whether the bomber was a police officer who defected to the Taliban or used the uniform to make his way inside the centre.

The poorly trained and equipped Afghan police forces have borne the brunt of Taliban-led attacks in the past seven years. More than 1,700 police personnel were killed in attacks during 2007-08.

Hemat blamed “enemies of Afghanistan” for the attack, a term often used by Afghan government officials to describe Taliban rebels.

No group immediately took responsibility for the attack, which was the deadliest for the police force in recent months.

Meanwhile, the Afghan defence ministry said its forces detained three would-be suicide bombers equipped with explosives-filled vests in Uruzgan’s Deh Rahwood district.

They were detained minutes after their comrade attacked police forces in Tarin Kot, the statement said, but did not provide more details.

Taliban militants have been behind hundreds of suicide attacks since they lost power in late 2001 in a US-led military invasion. The militants carried out more than 120 suicide bombings last year.

The Taliban has steadily grown in numbers, gained more ground in the past three years and turned southern and eastern Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan, into a main hub for their activities.