Farah attack toll: 54 dead, 100 injured
FARAH CITY (PAN): The toll from Wednesday’s well-coordinated insurgent assault on a crowded courthouse in western Farah province has risen to 54 dead and 100 wounded, officials said on Thursday.
Twenty-six civilians, six army soldiers, four policemen, eight judge and other court officials and nine assailants were killed in the attack, the governor’s spokesman, Abdur Rahman Zhwandai, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Security personnel, government servants, schoolchildren and civilians were among the 100 wounded in the bomb-gun assault and the subsequent gunbattle that lasted nine hours.
However, the militants failed in their attempt to free some detained Taliban who were to be produced in the appellant court, he indicated.
Although Zhwandai gave no further details, Nazo Girls’ School Principal Zia Gul Akbari said 30 students had been slightly wounded by glass shards. They were not hospitalised.
But Public Health Director Dr. Abdul Jabbar Shaiq said one man succumbed to his injuries while being transferred to hospital in neighbouring Herat province. Another five critically wounded people have been referred to Herat.
Lt. Gen. Aqa Noor Kentos, the provincial police chief, said the attackers were clad in Afghan army uniforms. Two militants, who got down an Afghan army pick-up, were killed when their explosives went off.
Immediately after the blast, four other bombers rushed into the building that housed several other departments, Kentos said. He also confirmed the casualties. Nearby buildings were damaged.
Mohammad Amin, an area resident, said the attackers detonated their explosives-laden vehicle in front of the court gate. A short while after the explosion, they forced their way into the compound.
As usual, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the group, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, said 80 government officials had been killed and 75 others wounded. He acknowledged the death of only four civilians.
President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, denounced the suicide attack as an act of genocide. “Once again, terrorists have targeted innocent people who were visiting local offices to have their problems resolved.”
He blamed the enemies of Afghanistan for promoting sinister foreign designs, saying the perpetrators would be held accountable by the nation and punished by Almighty Allah.
In a telephone conversation with the Farah governor, Karzai said a high-powered delegation would be sent today to Farah City to probe the incident and help the victims’ families.
A shopkeeper in the city, Mohammad Ibrahim, said the courthouse and a number of other buildings had been damages extensively. Many shops were ruined and the municipality wall razed, he added.
He said court and attorney office employees were on leave, because both buildings had been devastated. The rubble was being carted away from the site, he concluded.
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