Blast levels shops in Kabul, kills 6

KABUL, Afghanistan – At least six people were killed Wednesday in an explosion caused by gunpowder in shops selling ammunition for hunting rifles, police said. Nine others were injured, and the blast gouged a huge crater into the neighborhood.

Police, soldiers and crying relatives used their hands and shovels to dig frantically through the debris for more feared trapped underneath. At least three of the wounded were pulled from the rubble.

Abdul Basir looked for his three brothers in the messy heap of mud-brick that used to be his shop.

“How am I going to tell my mother?” he asked, his arms reaching toward the sky.

A statement from the Interior Ministry said six people were killed and nine wounded.

Deputy city police chief Zulmay Khan said the explosion was caused by gunpowder in shops selling ammunition for hunting rifles. Police have not said what might have ignited the gunpowder.

Ali Shah Paktiawal, the criminal director of Kabul police, had said earlier that it was a car bomb, and had killed at least four or five people. But after further investigation, Paktiawal said it “was not a terrorist act.”

Most of the shops were shut at the time of the blast around 6:30 a.m. in part of the city where many buildings are already ruined from years of conflict.

Khan said most of the casualties were caused by houses collapsing in the explosion.

Mahmadullah, 22, had been opening his shop when the explosion caused his shop to collapse on him. Rescuers pulled him out alive from the rubble.

His father, Mohammad Ashim, had a cut on his nose and on his head, and he said his other son also was wounded.

Khali Abdul Wahid, a leader in the area, said that there were 400 shops near the blast site, and at least 100 were destroyed or damaged. A reporter on the scene said that at least 20 shops were completely destroyed.

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