Asia

Many children among Afghan volleyball match bomb victims

A boy receives treatment at a military hospital in Kabul, after being wounded during a suicide attack at a volleyball match on Sunday in the Yahya Khail district of Paktika province, November 24, 2014 Image copyright Reuters

Many children were among a crowd watching a volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday when a suicide bomber struck killing at least 50.

One boy told the BBC he saw the bomber arrive on a motorbike.

The boy's right leg was injured in the explosion but he dragged himself away.

Afghan intelligence blamed the attack on the Haqqani militant network. On Monday one soldier died after a Nato convoy was attacked in Kabul.

The Haqqani network, whose leadership is believed to be based in the tribal area of Pakistan, is reported to have a strong presence in several eastern provinces of Afghanistan including Paktika, where the attack took place.

"Around 17 of the victims are children between eight to 14 years of age," said Maj Gen Siawash, head of the Kabul military hospital. At least 60 people were also wounded.

It is thought to be one of the deadliest attacks to hit Afghanistan in recent years. Reports say the crowd gathering to watch the volleyball tournament in a remote district of Paktika was very dense, which is why casualties were so high. People had come from surrounding districts to cheer on their home teams.

"I was watching the game, sitting on the ground with my brother, when the blast happened," 11-year-old Mohammad Rasuol told the AFP news agency. He was wounded in the chest and his brother is in intensive care, AFP reports.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Reports say at least 17 Afghan children died in the attack

"People were covered in blood all around me. There were many friends of mine among them."

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Kabul reported how a doctor at the local hospital in Paktika cried as he spoke of treating many wounded children.

The attack came after Afghan MPs approved security deals allowing Nato and US soldiers to remain after the withdrawal of most foreign troops next month.

The total number of soldiers in the new Nato force will be about 12,000. Their mission has been defined as training, advising and assisting the Afghan security forces.