The bombing in Kandahar – one of the largest in a year – underscores the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Days after Afghans cast their ballot for the president for only the second time in the nation's history, a massive bomb detonated in Kandahar, the largest city in the south. Although Afghans saw a number of bombings in the lead-up to last week's election, this blast was the largest, killing at least 43 people and injuring at least 65.
The blast occurred on Tuesday night hours after the Afghan election commission announced preliminary vote tallies. The Taliban had urged citizens to boycott the election. As the nation awaits the final election results, the violence in Kandahar underscores the deteriorating security situation that the incoming president must address.
While the Taliban have denied responsibility for the attack, The New York Times reports that "it bore the hallmarks of the Taliban." Kandahar has long been a power base for the Taliban, which has been battling the Western-backed government there since the American invasion in 2001. The Taliban "have been carrying out attacks of increasing complexity and brutality in southern Afghanistan, targeting Afghan and international forces and those allied with them," wrote The New York Times.
No other group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and an interior ministry spokesman also pointed to Taliban-linked insurgents as the likely perpetrators. Meanwhile, President Karzai has ordered his security chiefs to launch an in-depth investigation of the attacks, reports Germany's Deutsche Welle.