60 dead in car bomb blast at Afghan hospital

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The Independent Online

The death toll from a car bombing outside a medical clinic in eastern Afghanistan has risen to at least 60, authorities said.

The Afghan health ministry said 120 people also were wounded in the blast in the Azra district of Logar province, 25 miles east of Kabul.

Din Mohammad Darwesh, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the blast hit a hospital in the Azra district of Logar province.

Afghan officials said they were planning a helicopter trip to the remote area to help dig victims out of the rubble and transport them to better medical facilities.

Meanwhile, authorities said at least 10 people, including a police officer, were killed when a bicycle rigged with explosives blew up in a bazaar in northern Afghanistan yesterday.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said the blast struck the bazaar in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province.

The ministry said in a statement today that 24 other people were injured in the attack, including five women and a policeman.

A sport utility vehicle packed with explosives blew up outside the clinic, levelling the 10-bed medical centre, Afghan authorities said.

The massive blast in the mountainous district also wounded at least 120, the Afghan Health Ministry said.

Dr Mohammad Zaref Nayebkhail, the provincial health director, said the clinic guards tried to prevent the bomber from driving into the compound.

"The driver didn't stop and he entered the compound and reached the main building of the health centre, where the truck detonated," Dr Nayebkhail said.

The force of the blast caused the building housing the clinic to collapse, trapping at least 15 people underneath the rubble.

"Right now, local people are helping to dig out bodies or wounded people from the ruined buildings," he said.

Dr Nayebkhail said the clinic had recently been expanded to meet the health needs of the far-flung district's population. An emergency response team of nurses, doctors and other provincial officials was to fly by helicopter to the area to help search for survivors in the rubble of the remote clinic, he said.

Din Mohammad Darwesh, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said 25 people were killed and more than 40 wounded in the blast. It was not possible immediately to reconcile the difference, but differing casualty figures are common immediately following such an attack.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the bombing. Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the movement, told The Associated Press in a phone interview said that "this attack was not done by our fighters".

Late yesterday, another blast - this one caused by a bicycle rigged with explosives - ripped through a bazaar in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people, including a police officer. At least 24 people were wounded in the attack, according to an interior ministry statement.

Also, Nato said an alliance service member was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan today. Nato did not release any other details about the death.

The death brings to 47 the number of Nato service members killed in June and more than 200 killed this year.