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Suicide bomber kills 6 at Afghan military hospital

Dozens are injured in the blast, the first major assault inside the capital since Taliban fighters announced their "spring offensive."

May 21, 2011|By Laura King | Los Angeles Times
  • Afghan soldiers arrive at Kabul's main military hospital after a suicide bombing.
Afghan soldiers arrive at Kabul's main military hospital after a… (Mustafa Quraishi, Associated…)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber slipped into a well-guarded Afghan military hospital complex in the capital Saturday, killing at least six people and injuring dozens, the Defense Ministry said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The thunderous blast, which echoed across much of Kabul, marked the first major assault inside the capital since Taliban fighters announced the start of their "spring offensive" at the beginning of May.

The noontime explosion took place in a part of the sprawling compound mainly devoted to medical training, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Azimi told Afghanistan's Tolo television.

The hospital facility is overcrowded, and some work areas and trainee accommodations are housed in tents, according to Afghan military officials. The bomber was said to have struck a tent used as a dining hall.

The facility remained under lockdown while security personnel searched for a second suicide bomber, but none was found. Emergency vehicles, sirens wailing, rushed to the scene, and police and soldiers blocked off nearby streets.

In several recent attacks, insurgents have readily proved their ability to penetrate sensitive defense installations. Last month, a bomber made his way into Afghanistan's Defense Ministry, killing at least two people.

Afghan insurgent groups including the Taliban have declared their determination to keep fighting in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death in a May 2 raid in Pakistan, despite reports that the Taliban movement's senior leaders are weighing renewed peace overtures from the West and the government of President Hamid Karzai.

laura.king@latimes.com

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