Bombs targeting Afghan lawmakers kill dozens
Published Tuesday, November 6, 2007 11:05PM EST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 7:08PM EDT
Two bomb blasts targeting a delegation of lawmakers north of Kabul killed dozens of people in Afghanistan Tuesday, including at least five parliamentarians. Death toll accounts varied widely following the blasts that also wounded dozens of children.
The bombs exploded outside a sugar factory in the northern province of Baghlan as the lawmakers were about to enter the facility for a tour.
School children, Afghan elders and government officials waiting to meet the delegation were also hit by the blasts.
President Hamid Karzai's office confirmed that at least five members of parliament had been killed in the attack.
"This heinous act of terrorism is against Islam and humanity and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms," Karzai said in a statement. "It is the work of the enemies of peace and security in Afghanistan."
Officials don't know who was behind the attack. It could have been Taliban fighters or even al-Qaida, although theTaliban has denied responsibility.
The province of Baghlan is about 150 kilometres north of Kabul.
"This is a relatively safe area," The Globe and Mail's Graeme Smith told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday from Kandahar.
"Baghlan province is an area that is considered a green zone whereas the insurgency in the south has made it a red zone on security maps."
Gen. Rick Hillier said the northern area continues to be very strong, and that area police forces are very capable. If someone is determined enough, they will occasionally get through with an attack, he said.
"In any country, and particularly in a country that's trying to rebuild after being destroyed, your security is not going to be perfect for a very long time," Hillier told reporters on Tuesday.
"The security is very good in that area by and large. But to make it perfect at this stage in the Afghan development is simply not possible."
There were widely conflicting accounts on the number of victims following the blasts.
The Ministry of Interior told The Associated Press that at least 28 people had been killed, Dr. Mohammad Yousuf Fayez, from Baghlan's main hospital, said that dozens of dead bodies, left at the blast site and collected by families, may not have been counted officially.
Fayez also said that at least 42 schoolchildren were among 81 people wounded.
"The children were standing on both sides of the street, and were shaking the hands of the officials, then suddenly the explosion happened," Fayez told The Associated Press.
The AP had previously been told by a government minister, under the condition of anonymity, that 64 people had been killed.
Meanwhile, Baghlan hospital director Dr. Khalilullah told Reuters that 90 people were killed and 50 wounded.
A major television station in Afghanistan, Tolo TV, is reporting more than 100 people were killed by the bombs.
The attack is one of the deadliest in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and never have so many high-ranking officials been killed in one attack.
In an earlier report to AP, Faizullah Zaki, a legislator from Jawzjan province, told AP that six members of parliament had been killed.
MP Mustafa Kazimi, a prominent member of the country's largest opposition party, the Northern Front, was killed in the blast.
With files from The Associated Press