x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Car bomb hits Afghan council meeting

A car bomb exploded next to an Afghan government office killing at least three people and wounding 28.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan // A car bomb exploded next to an Afghan government office during a provincial council meeting today, killing at least three people and wounding 28, officials said. The attack in the southern city of Kandahar ripped through the council office, flattened two nearby homes and damaged the nearby offices of the country's intelligence service, a reporter at the scene said. Dr Amayun Shafi at Kandahar's main hospital said the attack killed at least three people and wounded 28. A police official, Ezatullah Khan, said the explosion was caused by a car bomb but that it was not a suicide attack. The blast in Kandahar, the Taliban's former stronghold, came as the provincial council was hearing constituent complaints. Two members of the provincial council were wounded in the attack, Dr Shafi said. Afghan police, soldiers and intelligence agents were at the site, as were Canadian soldiers. Only hours earlier in Kandahar, two men on a motorbike threw acid on six Afghan girls walking to school, hospitalising two of the girls with serious burns, said Dr Sharifa Siddiqi. Four others were treated and released. School girls in Kandahar are easily identifiable by their uniform - black pants, a white shirt, black coat and white headscarf. Atifa Bibi, 14, said from her hospital bed that two men rode up to the girls while they were walking to school and threw the acid. Ms Bibi had burns on her face, which was covered in medical cream. Afghanistan's government condemned the attack, saying it was "un-Islamic" and perpetrated by the "country's enemies", a usual reference to Taliban militants. "By such actions, they cannot prevent six million children going to school," the government said in a statement. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the acid attack, and Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi denied the insurgents were involved. Ms Bibi's aunt, Bibi Meryam, said the family had not received any threats not to send their girls to school, but now they would consider keeping the girls at home until security stabilised. Girls were banned from schools under the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Women also were not allowed to leave the house without a male family member escorting them.