21 Killed as Suicide Bomber Attacks Northern Afghanistan Protest

At Least 12 Police Reportedly Among the Slain

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a crowd of protesters in the city of Kunduz today, killing at least 21 people, mostly police. A large number of wounded are also reported and the toll is expected to rise.

The demonstration was in support of the local leader of a pro-NATO Arbaki militia, who last week was accused of carrying out a massacre of civilians in the Kanam Village, killing 16 civilians in the village in ‘retaliation’ for a Taliban assassination of one of his members. Police promised to “investigate” the massacre but declined to arrest anyone involved.

So far no group has claimed credit for today’s bombing, and Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, conceded that he didn’t actually know who had carried out the bombing, or if it was Taliban at all.

The Arbakis, also known as the Afghan Local Police (ALP) because NATO gave them de facto police powers, are mostly linked to powerful tribes and wield considerable political influence. They also tend to play fast and loose with the law, looting rivals and accusing them of Taliban ties. They would therefore have a number of enemies, and of course the Taliban would be top of the list, who might be carrying out such an attack.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.