Afghan officials say suicide bombers targeted four different parts of the southern city of Kandahar Saturday evening, killing at least 30 people and wounding 46 others. Authorities say they now have the situation under control.
The head of Kandahar's provincial council Ahmad Wali Karzai tells VOA that officials believe the main objective of the Saturday night attacks in Kandahar city was a prison break.
He says insurgents launched four suicide attacks with the biggest strike occurring in front of the city's main prison. He says another attack occurred outside the police headquarters, while a small explosion occurred close to his house and a fourth attack happened elsewhere in the city. "Houses are collapsed and there are some shops [collapsed] and people under the rubble and the government is trying to rescue them. And there was a wedding close to the police station and lots of casualties in there, women and children, because of the glass and all this explosion," he said.
In mid-2008, insurgents launched a commando-style assault that included a fuel tanker loaded with explosives on the prison in Kandahar. In that attack, officials said most of the nearly 1,200 prisoners, including up to 400 suspected Taliban militants, escaped.
But this time, Karzai says authorities were ready, and the prison was well-protected. "There had been some information, rumors [were] going on that they were going to hit the prison and the police headquarters," he said.
Kandahar is the largest city in the Taliban's southern stronghold. In neighboring Helmand province, NATO and Afghan forces have been trying to clear insurgents from the town of Marjah since last month. Military officials within the coalition say they are planning to launch an assault next on Kandahar.
Karzai says that as it gets closer to the coalition's invasion, he expects more attacks such as the ones Saturday night to occur in the city. "There will be reaction to this type of major military operation. Taliban will definitely react to this," he said.
Kandahar is southern Afghanistan's main commercial center and the major city in Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban.