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Suicide Bomber Strikes Medical Facility in Eastern Afghanistan

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A suicide car bomb blew up outside a hospital in eastern Afghanistan Saturday, killing at least 20 people, including women and children.  Dozens more were wounded.

The suicide bombing in mountainous and remote Logar province destroyed the medical center, reducing it to rubble.

Regional authorities say several of the casualties resulted from falling debris when the building collapsed. There also are reports of people being trapped beneath the wreckage.

Gul Alam was injured in the explosion. He says the blast was so powerful it knocked him and a friend down.  He says it was only when he tried to stand up and get away that he noticed his leg was hurt. His friend helped him get to safety.

The hospital in the small and isolated village of Akbar Khail, about 40 kilometers from the Afghan capital, Kabul, recently had been expanded to provide better health services for residents.

A Taliban spokesman denied they were involved, saying they do not attack hospitals.  However, the militant group is active in eastern Afghanistan, attacking Afghan and coalition forces, and suicide attacks are one of its tactics.

While in Tehran for an anti-terrorism summit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack.

A spokeswoman for the International Security Assistance Force, Lieutenant Commander Kaye Sweetser, said the coalition joined the Afghan government in condemning the violence.

"The insurgents have a complete disregard for the innocent people of Afghanistan who are trying to live in peace,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and we will not falter in our efforts to work with our Afghan partners to find those responsible and bring them to justice."

Officials say emergency workers are at the scene, providing medical assistance, as well as search and rescue help.

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