Taliban suicide bombing kills 37 Afghan civilians, wounds Canadian soldiers

Monday, February 18, 2008

A suicide bombing attack on a Canadian military convoy in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan killed 34 Afghan civilians, and wounded four Canadian soldiers. Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. "A white Toyota Corolla car rammed the second vehicle in the convoy as it passed through the bazaar," said Abdul Hakim, who witnessed the attack. "Then there was a huge explosion. It was dust. I do not know what happened to me."

The Pakistani border was closed because of the elections in Pakistan, but re-opened to take the victims to hospital for treatment. Asadullah Khalid, governor of Kandahar said that many of the wounded are in critical condition, he expects the death toll to rise.

Governor Khalid expressed concern that the Canadian soldiers had not acted on threat warnings from the government regarding operations near the border with Pakistan. "We informed the Canadian forces to avoid patrolling the border areas because our intelligence units had information that suicide attackers were in the areas and wanted to target Canadian or government forces," said Khalid.

The Canadian military dismissed such criticisms and defended recent operations. "We regularly receive threat warnings and obviously we go where we want to, when we want to, in our area of operation," said Lieutenant Commander Pierre Babinsky, Canadian military spokesman. "We obviously take notice of these warnings but our aim is to operate freely within our area of operation despite those."

According to the Canadian military four soldiers were wounded. After treatment three were released from the hospital. All four were able to phone their families themselves.

"We strongly condemn this cowardly attack on the civilian population, who were attacked by insurgents during the course of their daily business," says squadron leader Peter Darling, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force in southern Afghanistan.