A suicide bomber on a motorcycle plowed into a guard post Tuesday at a police headquarters in this former Taliban stronghold, killing 13 people and wounding 11 — most of them Afghan police.
The attack in Kandahar was the latest in a series of bombings in southern Afghanistan that has raised new worries about the nascent democracy’s future. The blasts may also signal the militants, who once rarely used suicide missions, might be copying tactics of insurgents in Iraq.
The Taliban were behind the explosion, said Qari Mohammed Yousaf, a purported spokesman for the hard-line militants. His claim could not be independently verified.
“We will pursue these kind of attacks against government or coalition forces,” he told The Associated Press in a phone call from an undisclosed location about an hour after the bombing.
Senior police officer Jan Mohammed said the attacker drove his motorcycle into the guard post. “Then there was an enormous explosion,” he said.
The bombing rocked an outer wall, destroyed the guard post and wrecked several cars and motorbikes, but it failed to penetrate the buildings of the heavily guarded headquarters.
Afghan and Canadian troops cordoned off the bomb site, which was stained with blood and strewn with police caps, shoes and shredded clothes.
Ten of the dead and five of the wounded were police guarding the headquarters, said Mamoon Khan, a doctor at Kandahar city’s Mirwaise Hospital. The rest of the victims were civilians. An earlier estimate of 14 wounded was lowered without explanation.
Haji Ikram, a civilian, said he was inside the headquarters applying for a passport and rushed outside after the explosion.
“The police were running. I saw the dead bodies and the wounded. Some had lost a leg, some lost hands. They were crying. The police took the bodies away and told us to run away and leave this place,” he said.
An Associated Press reporter saw three bodies lying on the ground covered in blood and several wounded people being carried away.
Civilians who thought their loved ones had been inside the headquarters struggled to find them.
“My son went in the early morning to get a passport. Now he’s not answering his phone. I want to find out if he’s alive or dead,” said one crying woman, who did not give her name. Police blocked her from going inside.
More than 1,600 people have died in the past year as militants stepped up attacks. More than 20 suicide attacks have been reported across Afghanistan in the past four months.