24 die in Afghan suicide attacks

Violence in Afghanistan has spiralled in the past year, with Taliban-led militants stepping up their fight against the Afghan government and its Western backers as Kabul prepares to take over responsibility for security gradually from foreign forces.

The attackers forced their way into the company’s compound in the Bermel district of volatile Paktika province on Sunday night after killing a security guard, and then detonated a truck laden with explosives, the Interior Ministry said.

“As a result, 24 employees of the construction company were killed and 50 others were injured,” it said in a statement.

Mohebullah Sameem, governor of Paktika, earlier put the death toll from the attack at 13.
He said the dead and wounded included employees of the firm and other civilians.

Construction crew members and others working on infrastructure projects are frequently targeted by insurgents.

Mukhlis Afghan, governor Sameem’s spokesman, said the firm was one of the largest construction companies in the province funded by the US. government.

He said the blasts were so powerful that doors and windows were blown out of nearby houses, but he did not know if there were casualties outside the firm’s compound.

Bermel shares a long border with lawless areas of neighbouring Pakistan, where insurgents are said to have safe havens from which they launch attacks inside Afghanistan.

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