KABUL — A suicide attacker blew himself up in an army recruiting center in the northern Afghanistan province of Kunduz, killing at least 30 and injured 40 others on Monday officials said.
Kunduz province has been the target of a wave of attacks by insurgents as Afghan security forces are preparing to assume security responsibilities later this month. The attack was aimed at youths who came to the center to enroll for the service.
“The incident happened at 2 p.m. this afternoon when a suicide attacker, who had the army uniform, detonated his explosives which killed 33 youths of this province and injured 40 others who wanted to join the army,” Anwar Jegdalik, the provincial governor said.
"As the Afghan government is planning to take security responsibilities, the enemy does not want this to happen," Governor Jegdalik said.
Among the dead were three army officers, the rest were civilians, including four street children, he said.
No one has claimed the responsibility for the attack yet, but in the past Taliban insurgents, who are fighting against Afghan and NATO forces, have taken credit for such attacks.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) issued a statement condemning the attack.
“There is no denying the disregard insurgents have for the sanctity of innocent life. The killing of civilians is a brutal tactic that further turns the Afghan population against the insurgency, and only strengthens the resolve of international forces,” said Rear Admiral Vic Beck, ISAF Director of Public Affairs. “We join President Karzai in condemning this atrocity.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul also issued a statement condemning the attack.
"The United States Embassy strongly condemns the suicide attack which targeted an ANA recruitment facility in Kunduz Province today. This vicious attack killed more than 30 Afghans, including many brave recruits, and left dozens more wounded. We also condemn in the strongest terms last week’s attack that killed Kunduz Police Chief Abdul Rahman."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack in the strongest terms issued from the palace.
President Karzai called the attack 'a serious crime and an unforgivable act of terror against those who wanted to join in army ranks to protect their nation and territorial integrity.'
The president said "such terrorist actions can not affect the determination and moral of our youth to courageously prepare to serve their country, but will in contrast embolden their resolve and dedication to eliminate a cruel enemy that wants nothing but bloodletting."
“The enemy wants to create terror and frighten the people, not to join security forces in order to stop the country from providing its own security,” Gen. Ali Rezayee, the acting police chief for Kunduz, said.
Last week, the police chief of this province along with three others were killed in a suicide attack, for which Taliban insurgents got credit. And last month, over 30 people were killed in a census office while trying to get national identification cards in the Imam Saib district, which is 65 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Kunduz province. Also last year, the governor of Kunduz was killed in the neighboring province of Takhar while worshiping in a mosque.