LIANE HANSEN, host:
In Afghanistan, a suicide attack at a dog fighting arena in the southern city of Kandahar killed dozens of people in what is likely the worst suicide bombing in Afghanistan's history. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Kandahar.
(Soundbite of ambulance)
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: 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.
Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)
NELSON: Here police appeal over loudspeakers to Kandaharis gathered outside the hospital to donate blood for the scores of 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 away on 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 in search of Abdul Hakim Jan. Hakim Jan is 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 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.
Hakim Jan was buried in his village. Many Kandaharis fear the death of Hakim Jan clears the way for the Taliban to move into his district near Kandahar, giving militants easier access to targets in Afghanistan's second largest city.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Kandahar.
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