Truck bomb kills 20, injures dozens in eastern Afghanistan

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 28, 2011 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bombers on Sunday targeted the offices of a construction company that's building a road in an isolated area of eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens more, the Interior Ministry said Monday.

The attack in Paktika province, which borders Pakistan, was the latest to target road construction crews.

“This is the work of the enemies of Afghanistan," said Mokhlist Afghan, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Afghan said the dead were all civilian construction workers. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiulla Mujahid, described the compound in a post on the Taliban website as a "military base" and said the dead were soldiers.

Mujahid said the Taliban used a half-ton of explosives loaded into a truck to carry out the suic ide attack, a description that matched the Interior Ministry's statement.

“Last night at 8:30, three suicide bombers using a truck full of explosives attacked a construction company, killing 20 and injuring 50 others,” the statement said.

Afghan said the target of the attack was the Zahir Construction Co., which is paving a road between the province's Barmal and Sorobi districts.

Road projects are a frequent target of Taliban militants, who view them as a way to make it easier for Afghan security forces to patrol an area and to introduce other government services.

.Paktika is one of the remote, poor and restive provinces in the east that share borders with Pakistan's southern Waziristan tribal area, thought to be a stronghold of Taliban and al Qaida insurgents. Southern Waziristan has been the scene of scores of raids by U.S. drone aircraft targeting suspected Taliban and al Qaida leaders.

On Saturday, suspected Taliban militants kidnapped an estimated 50 Afghans, who were planning to join the national police, during an ambush in the eastern province of Kunar.

Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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