GARDEZ, Afghanistan, (AP) – A suicide bomber on foot detonated himself in a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday just after a U.S. convoy drove by, killing at least eight people and wounding 35, officials and witnesses said.
The attack in the city of Gardez damaged around 30 shops, shattered windows and destroyed the stores closest to the explosion. Three vehicles were damaged, including a taxi blasted by dozens of pieces of shrapnel.
Witnesses said a U.S. convoy appeared to be the target, and Maj. William Mitchell, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, said there were initial reports of injuries to ISAF soldiers, though he didn’t have further details.
Eight people were killed and 35 injured, said Gov. Rahmatullah Rahmat. At least seven of the wounded were in critical condition, hospital officials said.
Nasar Ahmad, a 30-year-old shopkeeper whose three cousins were seriously injured in the blast, said he saw a U.S. convoy driving through the city just before the explosion.
“I heard a strong blast and then saw a fireball go up,” Ahmad said from Gardez’ hospital. “For 10 minutes I couldn’t hear and I didn’t know where I was. I saw a lot of people injured lying in the street.”
Shah Mohammad, 19, said everyone killed or wounded by the blast were Afghan civilians.
“The convoy had already passed when the attack happened,” he said.
The blast in Gardez comes one day after a suicide bomber in northern Afghanistan killed three German soldiers and seven civilians.
Violence in Afghanistan has increased sharply in the last several weeks. More than 1,600 people, have been killed in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an AP count based on U.S., NATO and Afghan officials. The dead have mostly been militants, but about 300 civilians have also died in the violence.