Taliban marks start of Ramadan with suicide car bombing in Khost

AFP and Staff


Afghans gather at the scene of a Taliban car bomb that targeted a pro-government militia in Khost Province May 27. The bombing killed 13 Afghans, mostly civilians, at the start of Ramadan. [Farid Zahir/AFP]

KHOST -- A Taliban suicide car bomber killed 13 people in Khost city May 27 (Saturday) in the first major attack at the start of Ramadan.

The powerful explosion, which wounded six people, including children, left the area littered with debris, shattered glass and mangled vehicles.

The Taliban claimed responsibility on their website.

"A suicide car bomb in Khost Province has killed 13 people," said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish. "The target was a bus station ... The victims were in civilian clothes, and it is difficult to verify their identities."

Members of the elite Khost Protection Forces (KPF) were the target of the attack, said provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Faizullah Ghairat.

"The bombing took place early morning when KPF members were heading to work," Ghairat told AFP. "But most of the victims are civilians."

The pro-government militia is estimated to have about 4,000 fighters battling the Taliban.

The attack comes a day after Taliban insurgents killed at least 15 Afghan soldiers in an attack on an Afghan National Army base in Kandahar, the third assault last week on the military in that province.

The attack in Shah Wali Kot District followed insurgent raids earlier in the week on military bases in the same area and in Maiwand District, bringing the death toll among Afghan troops in Kandahar to about 60.

'Unforgivable crime'

"Terrorists, on the first day of Ramadan, conducted an attack in Khost that martyred a number of countrymen," the Afghan presidential office said in a statement. "The terrorists do not value any religious or holy days, committing a war crime and an unforgivable crime."

The Taliban's actions completely contravene Islamic teachings, said Kabul-based Afghan religious scholar Abdul Ahmad Mohammadyar.

Ramadan is a time for Muslims to pray, do good deeds and support each other and their communities, he said.

"It is the time to stop all negative activities," he told Salaam Times. "Unfortunately, Islamic law and principles are not important for the militants, who killed innocent Muslims without any reason."

Saira Sharif, an Afghan parliamentarian from Khost Province, strongly condemned the attack.

"If the Taliban claim they are Muslim, they should at least follow the Islamic principles during this holy month," she told Salaam Times.

"Our enemies are not Muslim," said Newed Ahmadi, 23, a student and Kabul resident. "They killed Muslims on the first day of Ramadan."

"As I read the Holy Koran and hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) , they invite us to pray and support the poor during Ramadan," he said. "I have never read in any Islamic book a command to kill the innocent."

Killing others without legal justification is intolerable, "especially during this holy month", said Zara Yousofi, 37, of Kunduz Province.

"I always heard from our religious leaders that Ramadan is a month for prayer and peace, but the Taliban, by killing the innocent, show they are not following Islamic teachings," she told Salaam Times.

[Najibullah from Kabul contributed to this report.]

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