MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (AFP) ― A suicide bomber on a three-wheeled motorbike killed at least 15 people at a crowded market in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials said, as security is ramped up ahead of presidential elections.
“It was a suicide bombing in the middle of Maimanah city during the Tuesday bazaar,” Mohammadullah Batash, the Faryab province governor, said.
“The blast happened on the main roundabout, which was very crowded. The bomber used a three-wheeler packed with explosives. All 15 of the dead are civilians or street vendors, and at least 27 are also wounded.” Toryalai Adyan, the provincial police chief, and hospital officials gave a similar account and death toll.
There was no immediate claim for the attack in the capital of Faryab, a remote province that borders Turkmenistan and has a mixed population of Uzbek, Turkmen and Pashtun ethnic groups.
A week ago, Taliban insurgent leaders vowed to target Afghanistan’s presidential election on April 5, urging its fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces before the vote to choose a successor to Hamid Karzai.
Previous Afghan elections have been badly marred by violence, with at least 31 civilians and 26 soldiers and police killed on polling day alone in 2009, as the Islamist militants displayed their opposition to the U.S.-backed polls.