A suicide bomber attacked a crowd of people watching a regional volleyball tournament in southeastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 45 people and injuring scores of others, BBC News is reporting.
The suicide bombing took place in the Yahyakhail district in Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktika province, which borders Pakistan and which has become the focus of insurgent attacks by Islamist groups such as the Taliban and the Haqqani network, according to Fox News.
Afghanistan’s recently-inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, called the suicide bombing a “heinous attack.”
Mokhlis Afghan, the provincial governor, said the suicide bomber was seen walking among the crowd before detonation.
“There were too many people gathered in the one place to watch the game.”
Volleyball is hugely popular in Afghanistan, and is played throughout the country. Authorities believe that the suicide bomber targeted the volleyball tournament to “ensure maximum casualties,” according to Fox News, and would also likely take out police and security forces.
A spokesperson said, via BBC News, that all of the people injured in the suicide attack were civilians, mostly young people. Several of the dead and injured have been taken to local hospitals, but the government has called on military helicopters to evacuate the most seriously injured to hospitals in Kabul, the country’s capital.
The suicide bombing comes as tensions in the region are heightened. The Afghan government recently approved a security deal that would allow about 12,000 NATO and U.S. soldiers to remain in the country even after the majority of the peacekeeping force in the country prepares to leave in the coming months. The deal would also allow U.S. troopers to continue fighting Taliban insurgents into next year, if not beyond.
Further, insurgents have been carrying out terrorist attacks to voice their opposition to Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, who signed the security agreement within hours of his inauguration. Ghani has stated that his country needs the additional troops, considering that his poorly-trained and poorly-equipped army is regularly targeted by Taliban and other terrorist organization attacks.
The suicide attack on the volleyball game is the deadliest terrorist attack in Afghanistan so far this year. A suicide bombing attack earlier this year on a marketplace in the Paktika district killed at least 43.
As of this post, no one has claimed responsibility for today’s suicide bombing.
[Image courtesy of: Fox News]