KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) – A suicide attacker blew himself up Friday outside the house of a district governor in southern Afghanistan, killing the official and three of his children, officials said.
The attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body as the Zhari district governor, Khairuddin, and his children left their compound in the volatile southern city of Kandahar, police and the interior ministry said.
They were going to take part in the traditional slaughter of a sheep and distribution of its meat to the poor of the area, they said.
Two of the governor’s sons and one of his daughters, all aged under 10, were also killed, said a police officer at the scene, Abdul Ghafar.
“All four were martyred immediately,” he said, adding another son and daughter were wounded.
Interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary confirmed the attack but said three civilians were wounded.
The body of the suicide attacker was torn to pieces, with flesh flung onto walls and vehicles, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Khairuddin, who went by only one name, had a home in Kandahar city but was the administration chief of Zhari district just west of the city.
Zhari has seen some of the worst violence in the Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban’s insurgency, including major attacks on international troops with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Kandahar has been a hotbed of violence ever since the Taliban militia emerged from the city and the surrounding region in the early 1990s to take control of government by 1996.
They were driven from power in late 2001 by a US-led coalition for failing to hand over their allies in Al-Qaeda, the extremist network behind the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Taliban insurgents are today waging an increasingly bloody campaign that is backed by Al-Qaeda and carries out regular attacks against Afghan officials and soldiers, as well as the international troops here to support the government.
The ISAF reported 66 suicide attacks in Afghanistan in the first six months of this year, compared to 47 for the whole of last year.
The violence has intensified lately with rebels repeatedly ambushing troops in the south of the country in recent weeks, in one case trying to overrun a military base.
US and Afghan soldiers have meanwhile been conducting an operation against militants said to be holed up in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, where the Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was last spotted in 2001.
Local media reports have said militants have suffered heavy casualties but this has not been confirmed by officials. The coalition will not comment on an ongoing operation.