A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in a remote town in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 US-led invasion. The blast destroyed numerous mud-brick shops, flipped cars over, and stripped trees of their branches, brutally underscoring the country's instability as US troops prepare to leave by the end of the year and politicians in Kabul struggle for power after a disputed presidential runoff.
Many victims were buried in the rubble, says the administrative chief of Urgun district. "It was a very brutal suicide attack against poor civilians," he says. "There was no military base nearby." There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the Taliban issued a statement denying involvement, saying they "strongly condemn attacks on local people." Several other insurgent groups operate in Afghanistan. In other attacks yesterday, a roadside bomb in Kabul ripped through a minivan carrying seven employees of the media office of the presidential palace, killing two of the passengers, and seven police officers and six border guards were killed when Taliban insurgents attacked a post on the border with Pakistan. A government spokesman says the attack set off an hours-long gun battle that left 34 insurgents and a local man dead.