A suicide car bombing in Afghanistan killed at least 89 people Tuesday, with more than 40 people also wounded in the attack in the country’s eastern Paktika province, according to an Afghan general. Also on Tuesday, in the capital, Kabul, a remote-controlled device concealed alongside a road killed two employees of President Hamid Karzai's media office and wounded five, police said.
In Paktika a suspected militant detonated his explosives-packed vehicle near a crowded market and a mosque in the Urgun district. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
Not far away in North Waziristan, on the other side of the porous border with Pakistan, the military has for past few weeks attacked hideouts of the Pakistani Taliban, prompting armed fighters to retreat to Afghanistan.
The United Nations said last week that civilian casualties in the region jumped by almost a quarter in the first half of this year as hostilities have escalated.
The bombings took place as foreign troops, most of them American, prepare to withdraw from the country, prompting fears of a security vacuum and the potential of a resurgent Taliban.
Paktika has been the site of several “green on blue” attacks, in which Afghan soldiers possibly loyal to the Taliban have attacked troops from the international coalition.
The military provided helicopters and ambulances to transport victims to the provincial capital, Sharan, according to Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman. He said 42 people were wounded in the explosion and some 20 shops were destroyed
"Right now, police are taking all the wounded to hospitals," a local deputy police chief, Nissar Ahmad Abdulrahimzai, told Reuters.
Abdulrahimzai said police had been tipped off about the car and were chasing it when it exploded.
"The explosion was so big, it destroyed many shops. Dozens of people are trapped under the roofs," Mohammad Raza Kharoti, the district governor, told Reuters. "The number of wounded will rise to more than 100, and the number of those martyred will also increase."
Al Jazeera and wire services