Deadly bomb attacks in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar were a warning to Nato's senior general that the Taliban are ready for a coming offensive in their heartland, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said yesterday.
The bombings show Taliban are still able to operate despite the buildup of Afghan and international troops in the south in preparation for a push into Kandahar province, he added.
A separate, Taliban-linked website called the attacks a "warning" to General Stanley McChrystal. He has said Kandahar province is the next target for coalition forces who recently drove the insurgents from a key stronghold in neighbouring Helmand province.
The multiple explosions – at least five blasts, four of them suicide attacks – killed at least 35 people, according to the Ministry of Interior. Among the dead were 13 policemen and 22 civilians, including six women and three children. A further 57 people were wounded.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, which hit the city's prison, police headquarters, a wedding hall next door and other areas on roads leading to the prison.
The main target was the prison, where investigators have found eight suicide vests, three rockets and AK-47 ammunition. Kandahar provincial Governor Tooryalai Wesa told reporters that he had asked the central government in Kabul for more Afghan troops to protect the city of 800,000 people in the run-up to the expected offensive in the province, which is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban and from where they once ruled Afghanistan.
He also said he wants to co-ordinate with Nato forces to improve security. Residents say Taliban militants can operate with little restraint in Kandahar, the largest city in southern Afghanistan. "The the government can't control the situation," said Javed Ahmad, 40. "We don't feel secure in the presence of all the [international] forces in Afghanistan, and it's terrible for us to live in this kind of situation. We don't feel safe even at home, and we can't walk around."Reuse content