Suicide blast at Afghan army centre kills 37

A SUICIDE attack on an army recruitment centre in northern Afghanistan killed at least 37 people in the third major assault in the area in less than a month, the deputy governor said.

Hamdullah Danishi, deputy governor of Kunduz province, said the casualties were all caused by a single suicide bomber.

“The death toll includes new recruits, army soldiers and civilians,” Danishi said. Several children who earned a living as shoe polishers were also among the dead, he said.

Some of the wounded were in critical condition and the toll may rise, said provincial hospital director Humayoun Khamosh.

The hospital morgue held 33 bodies from the attack, at least three in army uniforms, while others were young people in civilian clothes who apparently had gone to enlist, Khamosh added.

A statement issued by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s palace put the death toll at 33, with 42 wounded, and said four children were among the dead.

“Such attacks can never lower the morale of those Afghans who enlist in the security forces,” the statement said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the militant Islamist group.

Violence is spreading fast in the once relatively peaceful north, with Kunduz a focus for insurgents.

The Kunduz police chief was killed by a suicide bomber while out on patrol in the city last week. Last month, a suicide bomber killed at least 30 people in a government office while people were queuing to collect identity cards in the Emam Saheb district of Kunduz.

The previous governor of Kunduz was killed in an attack on a mosque last October, and in December an assault by at least four suicide bombers on an army recruitment centre near the site of yesterday’s attack killed five soldiers and four policemen.

The province has become established as an insurgent base over the past two years, with attacks radiating out into surrounding provinces while NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) offensives have been concentrated in Taliban strongholds in the south and east.

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