Bomb explodes in Afghan capital

Monday, August 26, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A bomb exploded Sunday in a drainage ditch in front of a United Nations' guest house in the Afghan capital, injuring at least two Afghan civilians, a U.N. spokesman said.

The blast shattered the window of a pharmacy across the street and left a small crater in a sewage canal filled with garbage.

There was no damage to the U.N. International Committee Association guest house, which is home to 45 foreigners employed by the United Nations, said Mohammed Mirzar, the house's manager.

A man and a girl injured in the blast were taken to the hospital, said U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva.

District police commander Zabet Agha Gul blamed the blast on opponents of the government, suggesting either al-Qaida or supporters of former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. "We are searching for who did it, but for the time being nobody has been arrested," Gul said.

Security in the Afghan capital was stepped up following the July 6 assassination of Vice President Abdul Qadir. His killers remain at large.

On Aug. 15, an explosion in a storm drain broke windows but caused no injuries at the Afghan Telecommunications Ministry building in the heart of the capital. Afghan authorities were unsure who was responsible.

Last month, Afghan authorities said a would-be car bomber was arrested after a traffic accident en route to a target. Afghan officials said he told interrogators he was assigned by al-Qaida to assassinate President Hamid Karzai or, failing that, to kill foreigners.

On Saturday, security forces said they discovered a suspected al-Qaida chemical laboratory complete with explosives and suspicious documents in a house in the capital's Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.

The house was formerly occupied by the Saudi non-governmental organization Wafa, which was among the organizations that the United States believes were connected to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

Before the collapse of the Taliban last year, Wafa ran a number of operations in Afghanistan including food distribution and construction work.

British Maj. James Kelly, a spokesman for the international peacekeeping force, said Wafa no longer occupied the house.

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