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Car bomb kills at least 30 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-filled vehicle Saturday inside a health facility in the southeastern province of Logar, causing a powerful explosion which killed at least 30 and injured dozens of others, a provincial official said.

The incident occurred in Azra, a remote district of Logar province near the border with neighboring Pakistan.

"35 people including women and children, including patients and health workers, were killed and 25 others are injured in the explosion which was caused by a car filled with explosives..." said Din Mohammad Darwesh, spokesman for the provincial governor.

No insurgent group claimed immediate credit for the attack, but in the past, the Taliban militants waging war against Afghan and U.S.-led NATO forces for almost a decade have been blamed. Taliban spokesmen were not available for comment.

"We don't know the reason why this center was targeted," Darwesh said.

Dr. Suraya Dalil, Afghanistan health minister, strongly condemned the attack, saying "Our health centers are delivering health services without any discrimination, and our health centers are not centers of political and military activities."

Logar province is located southeast of Kabul, the capital, and has become increasingly insecure in recent years.

A health ministry official told McClatchy that the death toll could increase.

The Afghan interior ministry gave a different death count, saying 20 civilians were killed, while 23 others were injured.

."90 percent of the building has been destroyed in the blast, and it was a heartbreaking incident," said Dr. Abdullah Fahim, an advisor to the health minister.

Violence has increased across Afghanistan as the Taliban launched its offensive, called Badr, last month, vowing to target government and US-led NATO forces and their installations.

Also Saturday, a NATO soldier died in the eastern part of the country, according to the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul. The statement did not detail the nationality and the exact location of the attack. Mostly American troops are serving in eastern Afghanistan.

The hospital incident came three days after President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The transition process in at least in seven locations form the U.S.-led NATO forces to Afghan forces is scheduled to take place next month.

(Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

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