Deadly blast hits Afghan capital, ex-vice president survives

Blast in Kabul cames as Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened a three-day anti-corruption conference.

Deadly blast hits Afghan capital, ex-vice president survives

At least eight people were killed and 44 wounded by a suicide car bomb on Tuesday outside a hotel used by foreigners in Kabul's main diplomatic area and across the street from a former vice president's home, a security official said.

The blast took place shortly before President Hamid Karzai began speaking at an anti-corruption conference elsewhere in the Afghan capital.

The wreckage of the bomber's car was in flames outside the gate to the Heetal Hotel in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, sending thick black smoke into the sky.

Khaled Danesh, a 20-year old office worker at a logistics company across the street from the attack was injured when glass and debris from the impact of the blast hit the back of his head.

"We were working in the office. When we took breakfast in the morning, suddenly the blast occurred," Danesh said.

"I am injured in three places in my head ... I'm thankful to Allah that I got saved and I am well," he added, pointing to injuries he had covered with a knitted hat.

Ex-vice president survives blast

The home of former vice president Ahmad Zia Massoud, brother of late anti-Soviet guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, was heavily damaged. A police source said the former vice president may have been the intended target.

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw Massoud being escorted away from his house unharmed, surrounded by the flaming wreckage of the car. The house next to Massoud's, a guest house run by an Indian company, was also badly damaged.

"Clean person"

Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened a three-day anti-corruption conference.

Karzai spoke at length about the bribes ordinary Afghans are forced to pay, and rebuked officials who "after one or two years work for the government, get rich and buy houses in Dubai".

However, he also cast doubt on the biggest anti-corruption conviction his prosecutors have achieved in years.

Kabul Mayor Abdul Ahad Sayebi, a Karzai appointee who was sentenced to four years prison last week for corruption and is now free on bail pending an appeal, attended the conference seated toward the front. Karzai pointed him out.

"One very serious caution I want to say. The mayor of Kabul has been sentenced to four years jail. I know the mayor. He is a clean person. I know him," Karzai said.

He said Sayebi had been targetted by enemies for refusing to grant them government land, and gestured to his chief justice and attorney general demanding they look into the case, although he also said Sayebi should still go to jail if guilty.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced this month he was sending an extra 30,000 troops to Afghanistan occupation, the first of whom will start arriving within days. London said the first of 500 British reinforcements arrived on Tuesday.

Detainees

The Red Cross said on Tuesday it had visited three Afghans detained by the Taliban, the first time during the eight-year war the militants had allowed the Geneva-based organisation access to prisoners they are holding.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement it had visited three members of the Afghan security forces in northwest Badghis, a mainly Pashtun province.

"This is the first time since the beginning of the current conflict that the ICRC has visited people detained by the armed opposition," Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC's delegation in Kabul said in the statement.

A spokesman for the ICRC in Geneva would not disclose any information about the detainees' condition and could not confirm whether they were Afghan policemen or soldiers, or say when they were captured by the Taliban.

There are 136 US-controlled detention facilities in Afghanistan.

The ICRC has registered more than 16,000 detainees since the US invasion began in late 2001.



Agencies

Last Mod: 15 Aralık 2009, 14:56
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