Suicide Bomber Strikes Afghan Wedding
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
Joining us now from Kabul is NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. Good morning, Soraya.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Good morning.
AMOS: Tell us what happened.
SARHADDI NELSON: There are at least 40 dead. We are talking, almost definitely, that those numbers will rise because there are people missing in addition to very badly wounded people at Kandahar Hospital. So, this wedding party came to a very bitter and abrupt end. The groom was among those who was injured. He, in fact, is being treated at Kandahar Hospital.
AMOS: Soraya, the Taliban is denying responsibility, and they usually take responsibility when they do these things. What suggests that it was them?
SARHADDI NELSON: He was very outspoken and very anti-Taliban. So, the feeling is that this village was targeted as a message to other Afghans to, perhaps, not cooperate with the government or with coalition forces.
AMOS: And so what is the government and NATO forces doing in the aftermath?
SARHADDI NELSON: Well, both have expressed great sorrow and are investigating this crime to figure out who the culprits were and to try and do something about it. But it's something that they really have to be seen as investigating and doing something about, just because a lot of these assassinations have been going on and there have been a lot of complaints from Kandahar residents that, hey, we step up to the plate, we back you, we show you support and then our people, you know, we get killed and you don't do anything about it. So, there's really pressure, especially in a big attack like this, for the government and the Western forces to be seen as doing some proactive to prevent this from happening again in the future.
AMOS: In the long term, how do events like this play into NATO's plans to drive the Taliban out of the region?
SARHADDI NELSON: Well, it's unlikely to put any sort of stop on operations. These sort of affairs are ongoing at the moment. As you know, NATO is very actively involved in trying to remove the Taliban from its strongholds in Kandahar province. And so, it doesn't seem likely that they would necessarily postpone that or delay that or just not do the operations all together. I mean, I think this almost strengthens the Afghan government's resolve that something happen.
AMOS: Although people will be watching how everybody reacts to this, this is a pretty devastating attack.
SARHADDI NELSON: Very much so. I think across the country there is a lot of sorrow and anguish today, and frustration that more security can't be brought to this area.
AMOS: Thank you very much.
SARHADDI NELSON: You're welcome.
AMOS: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reporting from Kabul.
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