Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR
Two Afghan police pickups and Abdul Hakim Jan's SUV are damaged at the site of a suicide attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Feb. 17. 2008.
Two Afghan police pickups and Abdul Hakim Jan's SUV are damaged at the site of a suicide attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Feb. 17. 2008. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR
At least 80 people have been killed in a suicide attack at a dog-fighting arena in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Scores of wounded and dead were ferried by the truckload to the main hospital in Kandahar. Doctors counted 70 bodies at the hospital, but say many more were carried away from the blast site by relatives for a quick burial as prescribed by Islam.
Outside the hospital, police appealed to Kandaharis to donate blood for the wounded. Doctors were overwhelmed by the number of casualties, and were treating the injured on the floors and in the hallways.
The morning attack happened a half-hour drive from the western edge of Kandahar. Many of the victims were attending a dog fight, a favorite and legal sport in Afghanistan. Nearby, vendors sold chickens and fruit while people picnicked.
The bomber, who was apparently sent by the Taliban, slipped into this crowd reportedly in search of Abdul Hakim Jan, a powerful tribal elder and former Kandahar police chief at war with the militant group. Fighting the Taliban is something many tribal elders here in southern Afghanistan are afraid to do.
Witnesses say the bomber got within 15 feet of his target before using a wire and clicker to detonate his explosives.
Hakim Jan has not been found, although he is presumed dead.
Witnesses say panicked police opened fire after the bombing, causing some of the casualties.
Hours later, the site of the blast is still littered with prayer caps, shoes and puddles of blood. Also left behind are the twisted hulls of two police pickups and Hakim Jan's SUV.
Many Kandaharis fear that the death of Hakim Jan will clear the way for the Taliban to move into his district near Kandahar, giving militants easier access to targets in Afghanistan's second largest city.