Five killed, dozens injured in Afghan city blast


An explosion in the western Afghan city of Herat today killed five people and wounded 34, raising fresh concerns about security for landmark elections due in October.

The United Nations said the blast was the latest in a string of violent incidents that underscored the need for more international troops to protect the October 9th presidential vote and parliamentary elections in April next year.

The explosion came shortly before the launch of a drive to disarm militia forces in the ancient city near the border with Iran.

The device exploded outside a military post near a busy morning market, said Mr Ghulam Mohammad Masoan, spokesman for the provincial governor. A doctor in a city hospital said at least four people had been killed.

"The death toll has reached five, a child is among them. And we have 34 wounded people. said Dr Nasir Habib, a doctor at Herat's main hospital.

The death toll could rise because some of the wounded were in critical condition, he said. All the victims were civilians.

Herat's police chief, Mr Zia Uddin Mahmodi, said the blast was thought to have been caused by a bomb hidden in a bucket.

Members of the ousted Taliban militia could have been responsible, he said.