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Afghan Suicide Blast Slays 80 at Dog Fight

By Knight Shield     Feb 17, 2008 in World
A suicide bombing at an outdoor dog fighting competition killed 80 people and wounded dozens more today, an Afghan governor said, in what appeared to be the deadliest terror attack in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
More than 300 people, including several Afghan militia leaders, had gathered to watch the event on the western edge of the southern city of Kandahar.
There were several estimates for the number of dead. Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid said 80 had been killed. Abdullah Fahim, a Health Ministry spokesman, said 67 had been killed and 90 wounded, though he said the toll could rise. NBC News in Afghanistan, meanwhile, reported that 80 people died in the blast.
Witnesses reported that the militant commanders' bodyguards opened fire after the blast. It was not immediately clear how many of the casualties were caused by bullets.
Kandahar, the Taliban's former stronghold and Afghanistan's second largest city, is one of the country's largest opium poppy producing regions. The province has been the scene of fierce battles between NATO forces, primarily from Canada and the United States, and Taliban fighters over the past two years.
Dog fighting competitions are common in Afghanistan and are considered popular entertainment. They can attract hundreds of spectators who cram into a tight circle around the spectacle.
Wali Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai and the president of Kandahar's provincial council, said the target of the attack was Abdul Hakim Jan, the leader of a local militia whom Karzai said was killed in the attack.
Faizullah Qar Gar, a resident of Kandahar who was at the dog fight, said the militant commanders' bodyguards opened fire on the crowd after the bombing.
"In my mind there were no Taliban to attack after the blast but the bodyguards were shooting anyway," he said.
Afghanistan's previous deadliest bomb attack came in November in the northern city of Baghlan, when a suicide bombing and subsequent gunfire from bodyguards killed about 70 people, including six parliamentarians and 58 students and teachers.
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