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Car Bomb Rocks Busy Kabul Market

September 5, 2002

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ A powerful car bomb rocked a busy market area in the center of the Afghan capital Thursday, and a police spokesman said 30 people had been killed and wounded.

Emergency vehicles and armored personnel carriers from the international peacekeeping force rushed to the scene in a crowded market area near the Ministry of Information.

Witnesses said a smaller explosion had drawn crowds to the area when the car bomb exploded in front of a building containing shops selling televisions and satellite dishes _ all forbidden during hardline Taliban rule. The second floor of the building housed a small hotel.

``This bomb was inside a taxi,″ said police spokesman Dul Aqa. ``It was a very very strong explosion. We can’t say exactly who was behind it but we know the last bombs were al-Qaida and (former Prime Minister) Gulbuddin (Hekmatyar).″

Hekmatyar issued a call for jihad, or holy war, this week to drive U.S. and foreign troops including international peacekeepers from Afghanistan.

The blast occurred in one of the most congested areas of the city on a day when many residents do their shopping before Friday’s Muslim prayer day. One shopper, Haji Abdul Aroof, said he saw four bodies lying in the street.

``We came to see what was happening when the second bomb went off,″ he said. ``There was a powerful explosion and we all ran.″

Police sealed off the area, but emergency vehicles would be seen rushing injured to hospitals. Some dazed victims could be seen being led away, their clothing ripped and covered in blood.

Five or six vehicles were destroyed, windows shattered and doors of shops ripped off their hinges.

The blast appeared to be the most serious in a string of bombings that have occurred in the Afghan capital since Aug. 15 when a small blast shattered windows at the Ministry of Telecommunications.

Previous bombings had been small, causing few casualties and relatively little damage.

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