KABUL — A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed at least 15 people in a crowded market on Tuesday as the country prepares for a historical presidential election.
The Takiban has vowed to derail the upcoming election.
Thirty-six people, many of them civilians, were wounded by the blast, which occurred in the main bazaar of Maimana, the provincial capital of northern Faryab Province close to the border with Turkmenistan, officials said.
The target of the attack was not clear. It was also unclear if the explosive the bomber detonated went off prematurely, as some time have been the case in past attacks.
“In total, I can say that most of the 15 killed and 36 wounded people were civilians,” Abdul Sattar Barez, the province’s deputy governor said by phone.
“The victims included women and children, shopkeepers and poor hawkers.”
Images and videos from the scene showed a mangled three-wheeled motorcycle, apparently used by the bomber, as well as numerous dead bodies and a doll.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
For years, the Taliban-led insurgents have relied on suicide attacks as part of their campaign against the U.S. as well as NATO-run troops and the Afghan government.
Civilians are often the victims of the attacks.
The Taliban are active in parts of Faryab, where militants in a raid earlier in March shot dead six policemen at their post.
Tuesday’s attack comes weeks before the presidential elections in Afghanistan. The election will allow the handover of power by ballot for the first time in the country’s history.
The Taliban has threatened to sabotage the vote and warned people against it.
A number of voters and police lost their lives during various attacks of the Taliban in 2009 elections.
“The (Tuesday) attack could have link to the elections and the enemies perhaps want to frighten people and create terror and fear well ahead of the elections,” Barez said.