PUL-E-ALAM: On Friday, at least 21 people were killed and nearly 100 were injured when a car bomb exploded in an Afghan city south of the Taliban’s capital, Ashraf Ghani.
The blast occurred in a residential area of Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province, as people were breaking their Ramadan fast, and came on the eve of the formal start of the US military s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters that the blast left 21 people dead and 91 others wounded, updating an earlier toll.
The chief of Logar s provincial council, Hasibullah Stanikzai, said the car bomb targeted a guesthouse in the city where dozens of people were living — including university students.
Arian said the blast caused widespread damage in the area, including to a hospital and residential houses.
“The roofs of houses have collapsed and people are trapped under the debris,” he said, adding the toll might change. “The security forces are trying to rescue those trapped.” He later said three people had been rescued from under the debris.
Arian said the casualties included college students who were examined at the hotel, as well as doctors and patients who were destroyed by the hospital due to the explosion. Officials said those who were injured were taken to Kabul for treatment.
The head of the Logar Health Department, Samat Gul, said that the explosion destroyed the main city hospital and its ambulances, leaving some doctors injured. The injured must be taken to Kabul. He said Kabul has sent an ambulance to take the injured to Kabul. capital.
Ghani blamed the Taliban for the attack. “The Taliban have once again shown that they are not only unwilling to resolve the current crisis peacefully and fundamentally, but are complicating the situation and wasting the opportunity for peace,” the Afghan president said in a statement. The Taliban did not make any immediate comment.
The blast comes a day before the US military formally begins to pull out its remaining troops from the violence-wracked country. US President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that all American troops will leave Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Even as the US military withdraws its remaining some 2,500 troops from Afghanistan, fighting has continued unabated across several provinces. Overall violence on the ground has increased as global diplomatic efforts to hammer out a peace deal between the warring sides have so far faltered.
Both the Taliban and government forces have clashed in near daily battles, inflicting high casualties on each other. Scores of civilians, too, have been killed in the fighting in recent months, including many in targeted assassinations in Kabul and other cities.