Car Bomb Kills 37 in Afghan Market

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber targeting a Canadian military convoy detonated his explosives at a busy market in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing 37 civilians, officials said.

At least 30 people were wounded in the attack in Spin Boldak, a town in Kandahar province near the border with Pakistan, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said. Three Canadian soldiers were lightly wounded, said Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid.

The attack comes one day after Afghanistan's deadliest bombing since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. More than 100 people were killed Sunday by a suicide bomber outside Kandahar city, Khalid said Monday, raising the original death toll of 80. Dozens of victims were buried side by side in a mourning ceremony Monday.

Khalid has accused the Taliban of the attack, but the insurgents denied responsibility.

The back-to-back bombings could indicate a change in tactics by insurgents. Though militant attacks occasionally have killed dozens of civilians, insurgents have generally sought to avoid targeting ordinary Afghans.

Despite the presence of more than 50,000 foreign soldiers led by NATO and the U.S. military, as well as some 140,000 Afghan troops, militants have made a comeback in the past two years, and more than 11,000 people have been killed in violence.

Just over the border from Waish, in a hospital in Chaman, Pakistan, Abdul Hakim lay in a hospital bed, his clothes caked with dust and splattered with blood. Though the Afghan-Pakistan border had been closed Monday because of elections in Pakistan, several of the wounded were taken to Chaman for treatment.

"A white Toyota Corolla car rammed the second vehicle in the [military] convoy as it passed through the bazaar," said Hakim, who witnessed the attack from his grocery store. "Then there was a huge explosion. It was dust. I do not know what happened to me."

Mohammed Akhtar, a doctor at the Chaman hospital, said that nine Afghan civilians were treated at his facility and that one later died. Khalid said several of the wounded were in critical condition and that the death toll could rise.

One of the Canadian military vehicles was heavily damaged in the attack, as were several shops and civilian vehicles, said Abdul Razeq, the Spin Boldak border police chief.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she saw no need to change parliamentary mandates that set limits on the number of troops her government can send to Afghanistan despite mounting pressure from NATO allies.

"We are not changing the mandates as they are at the moment," Merkel told reporters. "I see no need for a change at the moment."

Germany, which has roughly 3,300 troops in Afghanistan, is under pressure from allies, particularly the United States, to send additional soldiers and shift them from the north to the more-dangerous south to help battle Taliban insurgents.

The main mandate, due to expire in October, allows Germany to send a maximum of 3,500 soldiers to Afghanistan. German media have reported Merkel's government seeks to increase the number of troops.

AP, Reuters