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IS Bomber Kills 57 in Afghanistan      04/22 09:57

   A suicide bomber struck a voter registration center in the Afghan capital on 
Sunday, killing at least 57 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State 
group.

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber struck a voter registration 
center in the Afghan capital on Sunday, killing at least 57 people in an attack 
claimed by the Islamic State group.

   Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro said another 119 people were 
wounded in Sunday's attack, updating an earlier toll. Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul 
police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted civilians who had gathered to 
receive national identification cards.

   The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles away 
from the attack site and damaging several nearby vehicles. Police blocked all 
roads to the blast site, with only ambulances allowed in. Local TV stations 
broadcast live footage of hundreds of distraught people gathered at nearby 
hospitals seeking word about loved ones.

   Majro said there were five small children and 21 women among the dead. More 
than a dozen children and nearly 50 women were wounded, he said, adding that 
the tolls could still rise.

   The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility in a statement carried by 
its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shiite "apostates."

   Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections in October.

   Last week, three police officers responsible for guarding voter registration 
centers in two Afghan provinces were killed by militants, according to 
authorities.

   Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent attacks by the Islamic 
State affiliate as well as the more firmly established Taliban since the U.S. 
and NATO concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014. Both groups 
regularly launch attacks, with the Taliban usually targeting the government and 
security forces, and IS targeting the country's Shiite minority.

   Both groups want to establish a harsh form of Islamic rule in Afghanistan, 
and are opposed to democratic elections.

   Elsewhere in Afghanistan, at least five people were killed when their 
vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the northern Baghlan province. Zabihullah 
Shuja, spokesman for the provincial police chief, said four other people were 
wounded in Sunday's blast in Puli Khomri, the capital of the province.

   The Taliban routinely target security forces and government officials with 
roadside bombs, which often end up killing civilians.

   In the northern Balkh province, a district police chief died of his wounds 
after being shot Saturday during a gunbattle with insurgents, according to Sher 
Jan Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police chief. He said around a dozen 
insurgents were also killed in the battle, which is still underway.

   Durrani identified the slain commander as Halim Khanjar, police chief for 
the Char Bolak district.

   The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.


(KA)

 
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