Suicide attack at Karzai memorial service underscores deteriorating security
A suicide attack marred the service for Ahmad Wali Karzai on the same day that a UN report found that this year, Afghans have confronted the worst violence toward civilians in a decade.
Hours after the United Nations issued its biannual report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, a suicide bombing at the memorial service for President Hamid Karzai’s half brother underscored the report’s main findings: Security is deteriorating.Skip to next paragraph
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The first six months of this year were the bloodiest on record for civilians in a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, according to the report. A string of high profile attacks in recent weeks has killed and injured scores throughout the country.
During the opening months of 2011, “the armed conflict in Afghanistan brought increasingly grim impacts and a bleak outlook for Afghan civilians,” wrote the authors of the UN report. “All civilian deaths and injuries, no matter what party is responsible, have tragic and lasting impacts on families and communities."
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Thursday’s bombing took place in Kandahar’s Red Mosque, where mourners had gathered for Ahmad Wali Karzai’s memorial service. As the ceremony came to an end, a suicide bomber detonated himself, injuring more than a dozen people and killing at least four, including Maulavi Hekmatullah Hekmat, the leader of Kandahar’s religious council. A number of dignitaries were present for the ceremony, but the president was not in attendance at the time of the blast.
The death toll from Ahmad Wali’s memorial service comes in addition to a total of 1,462 people who were killed as a result of fighting during the first half of this year, a 15 percent increase compared with the same time last year. The number of civilians killed by war-related causes has risen steadily each year since the war began in 2001.
Insurgents were responsible for 80 percent of the deaths, a 28 percent increase compared with last year. International and Afghan forces caused 14 percent of the deaths, down 9 percent from the same time last year. The remaining deaths were not attributed to any group.
The growing number of civilian deaths was attributed to the increased use of roadside bombs, more complex suicide attacks, a rise in the number of targeted killings, more fighting, and more people killed in helicopter airstrikes, according to the report.