KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber blasted a small clinic Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, causing the building to collapse as mostly women and children lined up for vaccinations, maternity care and other services. At least 35 people were killed in one of the deadliest attacks against civilians this year.
The attack in the Azra district of Logar province was the deadliest since February, when three men shot to death 38 people at a Kabul Bank branch in Jalalabad.
Local officials said guards saw a SUV charging toward the Akbarkhail Public Medical Center, a compound 70 miles east of the provincial capital of Pul-i-Alam that provides health care for the mountainous area. But before anyone could shoot the driver or blow out the tires, the SUV smashed through a wall and exploded, officials said.
Wary of being blamed for civilian casualties, the Taliban denied it was behind the blast. Violence has been on the rise since the Islamic movement launched its spring offensive and vowed retaliation for the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. "This attack was not done by our fighters," spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a phone interview.
Survivors of the blast and others who heard the explosion frantically dug through the rubble with shovels and bare hands. At least 35 bodies were pulled from the debris and 53 other people were wounded, provincial public health director Dr. Mohammed Zaref Nayebkhail said.
"They were offering important services for the people. We had very good services and lots of patients. There were only 10 beds but lots of other services in that center. It's why the casualties were so high," he said.
Militants kill 10
in Pakistan raid
Two militants attacked a police station in Kolachi in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, fighting gunbattles before blowing themselves up during a five-hour standoff that killed at least 10 officers, authorities said. The Pakistani Taliban said that it sent two attackers, one of them a woman, and that the attack was partly in revenge for the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
As of Saturday, 1,527 U.S. troops have died in the war in Afghanistan. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:
• Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus, 21, Saginaw Township, Mich.; small-arms fire June 18; Kandahar province.
• Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvin A. Boatwright, 33, Lodge, S.C.; vehicle rollover June 18; Uruzgan province.
• Army Sgt. Edward F. Dixon III, 37, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.; vehicle rollover June 18; Uruzgan province.
• Army Sgt. James W. Harvey II, 23, Toms River, N.J.; small-arms fire Monday; Ghazni province.
• Marine Pfc. Josue Ibarra, 21, Midland, Texas; combat June 19; Helmand province.
• Army Pfc. Joshua L. Jetton, 21, Sebring; small-arms fire Monday; Kunar province.
• Army Spc. Tyler R. Kreinz, 21, Beloit, Wis.; vehicle rollover June 18; Uruzgan province.
• Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio, 24, Harrisonburg, Va.; small-arms fire Wednesday; Kunar province.
• Army Pfc. Gustavo A. Rios-Ordonez, 25, Englewood, Ohio; explosion Monday; Kandahar province.
• Marine Cpl. Gurpreet Singh, 21, Antelope, Calif.; combat Wednesday; Helmand province.
• Army Spc. Scott D. Smith, 36, Indianapolis; noncombat incident June 17; Khowst province.
• Army Sgt. Alan L. Snyder, 28, Worcester, Mass.; vehicle rollover June 18; Uruzgan province.
• Marine Lance Cpl. Jared C. Verbeek, 22, Visalia, Calif., combat Tuesday; Helmand province.