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 An Ariana Media Publication 10/25/2014
 Nine dead in bus bombing at Afghan picnic spot

The Guardian
08/07/2012
By Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul

[Printer Friendly Version]

Villagers attack man they say detonated bomb that struck bridge and sparked fears about violence spreading towards Kabul

A remote-controlled bomb has ripped apart a bus in a popular picnic spot just a few miles north-west of Kabul, killing nine civilians and injuring five others, in a worrying sign of violence encroaching upon the Afghan capital.

Paghman district is secure enough that a mob of furious villagers chased down and attacked a man they spotted detonating the explosives, something Afghans in insurgent-dominated areas would be unlikely to risk for fear of reprisals.

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, strongly condemned the attack.

"Terrorists who plant roadside bombs on public routes during the holy month of Ramadan, targeting and killing innocent Muslim civilians, are definitely neither Muslims nor Afghans." he said in a statement.

The Taliban periodically mount spectacular, deadly attacks inside Kabul, and there have been high-profile kidnappings and assassinations there too.

But the buried bombs that are one of the biggest dangers of the war for non-combatants in the rest of Afghanistan are very rare around Kabul, which has a heavy presence of Afghan security forces and foreign troops.

As the Nato-led coalition starts taking soldiers home, however, there are concerns that even once-peaceful parts of the country are seeing an increase in violence.

The site of Tuesday's early-morning bombing was just a few minutes' drive from a lakeside hotel insurgents attacked in late June, when five men killed 13 people and took hundreds hostage in a 12-hour siege.

The Taliban said that attack was targeting a place frequented by officials and foreigners who drank and gambled, but the hotel was actually packed with ordinary Afghan families escaping the noise and chaos of the capital in an area that had previously seemed immune to violence.

Last month two massive roadside bombs killed nine policemen in central Bamiyan province, the first Afghan security force deaths since 2008 in a place often considered an island of relative calm.

And this weekend an insurgent attack in the same province killed two New Zealand soldiers and injured six, New Zealand's highest losses from a single attack in over a decade in Afghanistan.

Paghman is a lush area of valleys dotted with small walled gardens where Kabul residents often go at weekends to escape the city.

The bomb had been hidden under a bridge, and exploded as the bus crossed it, Mohammad Zahir, a director of Kabul police, told Associated Press. The bus was believed to be carrying local residents to work in the city.

Police arrested the man angry villagers captured and beat.

"A Taliban member who was behind the IED (improvised explosive device) attack in Paghman this morning was arrested by police. He is badly beaten by public," ministry of interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter on Tuesday morning.

The Taliban did not immediately claim responsibility for the bombing, which appears to violate orders from the group's leader to minimise civilian casualties.

"In terms of the blast this morning I am not claiming responsibility. We are still researching and talking to our officials in Kabul," said insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

The Taliban have a record of both claiming and denying attacks for strategic reasons, regardless of their actual role in the violence.

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