Two Taliban suicide bombers targeted a community meeting at a major border town in southern Afghanistan, killing at least four people and wounding 15 others, local officials said on Sunday.
The meeting of tribal elders, known as a shura, was being held at about noon local time when a man drove a car near the compound and detonated a powerful bomb.
“Part of the roof where the elders were fell down after a suicide bomber struck the meeting,” said Sayed Hashem Agha, the governor of the Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province.
Minutes later, a man strapped with explosives ran towards a group of police guarding the compound. They fired at him, causing the bomb to detonate.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened as Afghan President Hamid Karzai was preparing to visit Washington for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama over the future of the country once NATO pulls out most of its troops by the end of 2014.
“Two suicide bomber attacked the shura office inside the district governor’s compound, killing the shura chief and eight others,” Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a text message.
The Taliban’s death count was at odds with official statements. The militant group routinely exaggerates casualty numbers.
The commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, U.S. General John Allen, condemned the attack, saying it showed a disregard for civilian life.
Spin Boldak is the country’s second busiest border point on Afghanistan’s porous long frontier with Pakistan, and is considered an important smuggling route between the two countries. Numerous insurgent attacks have taken place there.
( Reuters News Wire and Reporting By Sarwar Amani; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Pravin Char)